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Video: An Improved Football Helmet, Drone Catches Intruders with a Net and more!

02 February 2016

Drone Catches Intruders with a Net

A Michigan Tech engineer has invented a device to pursue and capture rogue drones that threaten military installations, air traffic and sporting events. The device is comprised of a launcher that shoots a net attached by a string to a drone. The system can be autonomous, controlled by a ground-based human pilot or a combination of the two. After an intruder is spotted, the drone catcher launches the net from a distance of up to 40 feet. Because the net is so large and can be deployed so quickly, it can overwhelm small drones. Once trapped, the intruder has little chance of escape. The net then swings below the drone catcher, which ferries its cargo to a safe location.

Improving Golf Club Aerodynamics

Boeing has developed what it says is an innovative trigger for Callaway Golf's XR driver that changes the airflow midswing, making the club more aerodynamic for greater driving distance off the tee. The modern driver head is big but all that volume can increase aerodynamic drag and decrease club head speed. During the swing, the airflow can have two different states. The first is laminar flow—the smooth flow that is desirable for an aircraft. The second is turbulent flow, which is chaotic with a lot of mixing. While turbulent flow is not a good thing for a plane, it can be helpful for an object like a golf club. That’s because during a downswing, airflow separates from the club head. This creates a wake behind the club and causes drag. With turbulent flow, air sticks to the head, the wake is minimized and there is less drag. Using modeling software, Boeing engineers pinpointed where the greatest drag occurs during the swing. Knowing that, they designed a trigger for the crown of the club. That trigger changes the airflow from laminar to turbulent at the desired point in the swing. The trigger last for just a fraction of a second, but it’s just enough to give golfers greater head speed.

An Improved Football Helmet?

At about $1,500 each, the Vicis helmet may not be for backyard play just yet. But for professional and college athletes, investing in the helmet could mean an investment in their health along with the longevity of their sports careers. The helmet starts with the idea of an outer shell of plates that shift when hit, dispersing the energy of impact. The crushable outer shell mimics the automotive industry’s collapsible materials that absorb and disperse energy as they are hit. The stiffer inner core may even prevent skull fractures. The (Visis)Vicis helmet has five main engineering points: the lode shell is an outer core that absorbs impact by deforming; the core layer has vertical struts that bend and buckle to slow impact forces; the foam liner helps with fit; and the arch shell is a hard plastic layer to protect the skull. The chin strap is the last point, with half of its snaps fastening to the core to keep energy from flowing through the jaw. The company recently received $500,000 from the National Football League to develop the technology. Company officials hope to reduce the incidence of concussion by 50% as they roll out their helmets for the 2016-2017 season.

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