The USAF’s new combat drone is an A.I. fighter jet that flies itself

The U.S. Air Force last week completed the first test flight of its new stealth fighter drone, the XQ-58A Valkyrie. The Valkyrie lifted off at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona on March 5 and was in the air for 76 minutes. Though the Air Force is often secretive about its emerging technology, it loosened the reins a bit sharing a brief 15-second clip showcasing this milestone maiden flight.

The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator is a long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle with a range over 2,000 miles and flight speeds up to 652 miles per hour. It can take off from a runway like a plane or launch into the air via a rocket. It was designed to fly alongside a piloted aircraft and provide mission support as part of the Air Force’s concept “Loyal Wingman” program. Theoretically, the UAV can assist in surveillance, participate in electronic warfare and even fire upon an enemy target if needed. In the future, the military could equip these loyal wingman drones with artificial intelligence, sensitive surveillance equipment, and advanced weaponry. Soldiers could stay out of harm’s way by using these high-tech UAVs to fly high-risk missions into enemy territory.

The Air Force Research Laboratory contracted with San Diego-based Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems to develop the Valkyrie long-range unmanned aerial vehicle. The project falls under the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) initiative which is focused on developing faster and cheaper tactical aircraft. The XQ-58A drone took 2.5 years to progress from contract award to first test flight and costs an estimated $2-3 million per drone to build. This price tag puts each drone on a par with a single Patriot missile and is significantly less expensive than the average fighter jet which costs upward of $100 million per aircraft.

XQ-58A-Valkyrie-drone

Last week’s maiden voyage was the first, but not the final test flight for the stealth combat drone. The Air Force plans to conduct a total of five test flights in two separate phases. Future test flights will evaluate system functionality and gauge aerodynamic performance as well as refine both the launch and recovery systems. Kratos isn’t the only defense company working on combat UAVs. Boeing Australia recently announced plans to make an A.I.-equipped fighter drone that can serve as a “loyal wingman” for piloted fighter jets.

Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
Web

How much!? British Airways glitch results in $4.2M quote for family vacation

Website errors sometimes cause flight prices to display at way below the correct price. But British Airways recently experienced the opposite issue when it tried to charge a family more than $4 million for a vacation in Mexico.
Gaming

Last gen had some hits! Take a look at the best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.
Emerging Tech

Scientists have a way to turn off alcoholism: Blasting the brain with lasers

Researchers from Scripps Research have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the desire to drink in alcohol-dependent rats by targeting a part of the brain using lasers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.
Deals

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.