Video: Robot Scans Building Defects, Fuel Cell Plane Flies, Autonomous Car Productivity, and More!

03 October 2016

A four seat plane powered by a fuel cell takes flight. Turns out not everyone is excited about self-driving cars. And a robot may soon scan buildings for structural defects. Rich Northrup brings you this weekly technology news brief.

Fuel Cell Plane Takes Maiden Flight

A four-seat passenger aircraft powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell system completed its maiden 15-minute flight, taking off and landing at Stuttgart Airport in Germany.

taking off and landing at Stuttgart Airport in Germany. taking off and landing at Stuttgart Airport in Germany.

The power train includes a hydrogen storage system, a low-temperature proton exchange membrane hydrogen fuel cell, and a high-performance lithium battery. The aircraft has a motor output of 80 kilowatts, a maximum speed of approximately 200 kilometers an hour and a cruising speed of 145 kilometers an hour. Depending on speed, altitude, and load, it can achieve a range of between 750-1500 kilometers.

Fear of Driving

A study suggests that self-driving cars are not likely to improve most Americans' productivity. The study, from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, finds that almost 36% of Americans say they would be so nervous that they would only watch the road. An additional 23% say they would not ride in a self-driving vehicle at all. Around 3% say they would frequently feel some level of motion sickness. Among those who would take advantage of the extra time, about 11% say they would read, 10% would text or talk with family and friends, 7% would sleep, 6% would watch movies or TV, 5% would work, and 2% would play games.

Robot to Scan for Building Defects

New buildings in Singapore may soon have a robotic inspector rolling up to their doorsteps to look for cracks and other defects. Quick-a-bot can move on its own to scan a room in about half the time it takes for manual inspection. The robot uses cameras and laser scanners to uncover building defects. The robot can upload 3-D data of the scans to the cloud and inform a human operator, who can then inspect suspected defects.

These stories, along with data sheets, teardowns and more, are available at both the Engineering360 and Electronics360 web sites.

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