Solar plane completes first ever intercontinental flight

solar plane completes first ever intercontinental flight impulseIt may be some time before passengers are lining up to board a solar-powered plane at JFK for a flight to London, but to be fair to Bertrand Piccard and his team, their remarkable aviation project has never been about revolutionizing air transport.

Earlier this week, the Swiss pilot made history when he completed the first ever intercontinental flight in an aircraft powered only by the sun’s energy.

The main idea behind the 19-hour flight was to highlight the potential of renewable energies and the importance of clean technologies.

During the flight, Piccard’s single-seat plane — Solar Impulse — flew at an average speed of around 44 mph at a height of 27,000 feet, using energy from 12,000 solar cells to power its four electrical motors. On-board batteries stored energy from the sun in the day to help power it through the night.

At 80 meters, the plane’s wingspan is slightly wider than that of the world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380. It is, however, remarkably light, weighing little more than a family car.

Speaking to BBC radio’s Giles Dilnot about his experience, pilot Piccard said the highlight of the journey was passing over the Strait of Gibraltar, the water that separates Europe from Africa.

“It was very symbolic and I knew that on the other side the Moroccans were waiting for us with so much enthusiasm,” Piccard said. “There was a lot of emotion.”

solar plane completes first ever intercontinental flight piccard

The purpose of the record breaking trip, from Madrid in Spain to Rabat in Morocco, was, in Piccard’s words, “to make a revolution in the mindset of the people when they think about energy issues.”

He told Dilnot, “Solar Impulse is really a pioneering adventure. We open new doors. We are not an industry that’s planning to put solar airplanes on the market.”

He continued, “We want to demonstrate how sexy and exciting the new technology can be that can protect the environment and reduce the dependency on fossil energy. We can say ‘even if this airplane is not transporting any passengers, all these technologies can be implemented in daily life, for cars, or for heating systems or for the construction of houses.’ All the technology exists, we should use it much more in our daily life.”

Piccard and his team plan to introduce Solar Impulse and its accompanying philosophy to as many people as possible with a series of flights around the world planned for 2013.

[Source: Reuters / BBC]

Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.

Heads up, George Jetson: Terrafugia starts taking orders for its flying car

The Terrafugia Transition flying car will go on sale next year, roughly a decade after the first prototype rolled out of its hangar. Terrafugia promises improvements, including a hybrid powertrain, to make up for the long wait.

‘Bloodhound’ rocket car needs a speedy cash injection to survive

The rocket-powered Bloodhound car has driven into difficulties, with the company behind the project needing a multi-million-dollar cash injection to save its dream of attempting a 1,000 mph land speed record.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Emerging Tech

For only $4,950, you can get jetpack lessons from the world’s only instructor

Have you ever dreamed of flying using a jetpack? JetPack Aviation founder -- and the world's only qualified jetpack teacher -- David Mayman is now offering a day of flight instruction.
Emerging Tech

Biologists have found a hormone that could make space farming possible

Researchers have shown how space farming may be possible. By encouraging plants to excrete a certain hormone, they’ve demonstrated that crops can thrive despite challenging conditions, such as low-nutrient soil and microgravity.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

Banksy's recent auction stunt was meant to totally destroy one of his most famous pieces of work, but a fault with the shredder has left the buyer with something almost certainly worth far more than the $1 million she bid for it.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.