Wall-climbing Drone Helps Fight High Rise Fires
Korean researchers have developed a wall-climbing drone that can find the source of fires in high-rise buildings and locate people who may be trapped inside. Skyscraper fires can be tough to contain because they can spread rapidly, and because of the challenges posed in fighting fires in a vertical structure. The team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology developed an unmanned drone that can endure heat above 1,000°. The drone is able to detect fires in skyscrapers, searches the inside of the building and transfers data in real time to the ground station. The drone operates using a quadrotor system, and can freely change its flight mode into that of a spider crawling on walls. It estimates its position using a 2D laser scanner, an altimeter and an inertia measurement unit sensor.
Nuclear Power Plants Set Operating Record
U.S. nuclear energy facilities operated at an estimated average capacity factor of 91.9 percent in 2015, the highest in history, according to preliminary data from the nation's 99 nuclear plants compiled by the Nuclear Energy Institute. Capacity factor measures the total electricity generated as a percentage of potential generation for the entire year. Actual electricity production from nuclear energy facilities in 2015 was the fifth-highest ever, at an estimated 797.9 billion kilowatt hours. The industry’s record high electricity generation came in 2010, when the 104 reactors then operating produced 806.9 billion kwh of electricity. As a result of their high capacity factors, nuclear energy facilities produce around one-fifth of U.S. electricity supplies, despite making up about 10 percent of the nation's installed electric-generating capacity.
China Closes the Gap in R&D Investment
While the U.S. continues to invest the most in research and development, Asia now accounts for 40% of global R&D. China in particular is strengthening its global science and engineering capacity, according to the a report from the National Science Board. According to the report, China, South Korea and India are investing heavily in R&D as well as in developing well-educated work forces skilled in science and engineering. Between 2003 and 2013, China ramped up its R&D investments at an average of 19.5% annually and now accounts for 20% of global R&D. That puts it second only to the U.S., which accounts for 27%. China is also playing a bigger role in knowledge and technology-intensive industries, including high-tech and knowledge-intensive services. China's share of the global market in high-tech manufacturing is 27%, second to the U.S. with a 29% share.