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Drone Development from NASA Dryden

May 1, 2013

Here’a a very cool  video overview of some of the significant UAV development to come from NASA Drysen. Not only is it an interesting historical piece, it’s fun and fascinating to see the variety and rapid evolution of these magnificent flying machines (without their men onboard)!

Four Decades of UAV Research at NASA Dryden

NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center has a heritage of developmental and operational experience with unmanned aircraft systems. Spanning from 1969 to the present, this fast-paced visual survey captures nearly a half-century of innovation in environmental and aeronautical research, showing the scope, scale, and variety of unmanned and remotely piloted vehicle projects flown at the center.

I didn’t know much about NASA Dryden and their mission. They have tons of great stuff on their website.

Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Administrator of NACA, First Deputy Administrator of NASA

Dr. Hugh L. Dryden,
Administrator of NACA,
First Deputy Administrator of NASA

The Dryden Flight Research Center is NASA’s primary center for atmospheric flight research and operations. NASA Dryden is critical in carrying out the agency’s missions of space exploration, space operations, scientific discovery, and aeronautical research and development (R&D).
Located at Edwards, California, in the western Mojave Desert, Dryden is uniquely situated to take advantage of the excellent year-round flying weather, remote area, and visibility to test some of the nation’s most exciting air vehicles.  To learn more…


X-47 Killer Drone Goes It Alone

January 28, 2012
tags: ,

Who Will Be Accountable When It Does Its Own Math?

The X-47B will not only land itself, but will also know what kind of weapons it is carrying, when and where it needs to refuel with an aerial tanker, and whether there’s a nearby threat, said Carl Johnson, Northrop’s X-47B program manager. “It will do its own math and decide what it should do next.”

Photo source: Wikipedia

There’s an excellent article by By W.J. Hennigan, of the Los Angeles Times about the next phase in robot warfare.

“Lethal actions should have a clear chain of accountability,” said Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and robotics expert. “This is difficult with a robot weapon. The robot cannot be held accountable. So is it the commander who used it? The politician who authorized it? The military’s acquisition process? The manufacturer, for faulty equipment?”

Read full article…

Innovation In The Willamette Valley

December 14, 2011

Oh No! Mr. Roundo Takes the Mike

Jeff Silverman a local videographer and producer of My City Videos “Live” recently did interviews with local  leaders on the subject of Willamette Innovators Network (WIN) and its annual event Willamette Innovators Night that is held in Corvallis each November.

Jeff invited me to discuss local innovation and the WIN event which I was happy to do. After all, innovation and entrepreneurs are a couple of my favorite subjects and for years I have put others on the other side of the table, so fair’s fair and what goes around comes around (whatever that means).

In addition to covering successful start-ups and entrepreneurs we discuss why the Willamette Valley is a good place to start a new venture but not keep the company headquartered there it once it reaches critical mass or is acquired.

I will soon post my last of the year Innovators Interviews with Ron Adams who just re-positioned himself from Dean of Engineering at OSU to the post of Executive Associate Vice President for Research.

To see Jeff’s other interviews with Mark Van Patten, Director – Business Solutions Group OSU and Rick Spinrad, VP for Research – OSU go to My City Videos “Live” | Willamette Innovators Network video.

Also visit Jeff’s website  and see his YouTube Channel My City Videos

Also see My City Videos – Willamette Innovators Night with Ron Sparks…

To learn more about the WIN Event visit the Willamette Innovators Network

What Area Buys The Most Efficient Cars?

December 5, 2011

How Does Your Area Compare?

I see a few EVs driving around Corvallis and while we weren’t included in the NPR report, I suspect that we are close to the 6.1% of sales that Eugene shows. Higher than Portland’s 5.4% but lower than SF’s nation leading 8.4%.

I wonder if  PDX Mayor Sam Adams is ready to surrender to the Mayor of SF in their self-proclaimed EV War

Sara Carothers and Alyson Hurt / NPR

Map: Hybrid And Electric Sales Across The Country

 November 22, 2011

Hybrids and electrics account for less than 3 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. this year, but that ratio is higher in some areas. The San Francisco Bay Area leads the nation with 8.4 percent of all cars sold and the rest of the top 10 markets are also on the West Coast. Go to NPR map

Aptera Motors Pulls The Plug

December 2, 2011
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Belly-Up – More EV Dreams Go Bust

It’s not easy being green or counting on government funding. The bold and innovative Aptera had many fans, including me, due to its radical style and modest approach to EV design. But, sadly it’s not to be. See the below note of closure from Aptera’s CEO.

EVs and green tech of all kinds have been taking a beating in the news and in the market. Other EV makers like Fisker are facing tough times and it looks like the DC induced Green Bubble, has enticed too many EV battery makers into the market  and are they are getting beat-up.

The good thing about dreams and entrepreneurs is that they are resilient and bounce back. So fear not dear reader, the dream lives! See the  DeLorean Electric Vehicle


Dec. 2, 2011

After years of focused effort to bring our products to the market, Aptera Motors is closing its doors, effective today. This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision. Unfortunately, though, we are out of resources.

It is especially disappointing since we were so close…

Aptera executives had been engaged in exhaustive due diligence with the Department of Energy (DOE) pertaining to an ATVM (Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing) loan. Our business plan was examined from top to bottom by internal agency representatives, independent consultants and experts in academia. They did an amazing job of vetting us and they tested every possible weakness in our plan. And after nearly two years of discussions, we had recently received a Conditional Commitment Letter for a $150 million loan.

The ATVM loan would have provided funding for the development and commercialization of a five-passenger, midsized sedan (similar to a Toyota Camry) that would be base priced at less than $30,000 and deliver more than a 190 mile per gallon equivalent. The concept of this vehicle had been in place since the very beginning of Aptera, and we had been wholly focused on its development for the last year. The last remaining hurdle was finding new funds to match the DOE loan.

We were so optimistic that the company would move forward that we were in discussions to reactivate a mothballed automotive plant in Moraine, Ohio. In the past months we had engaged with the labor union that operated that facility to discuss the hiring of 1,400 new job opportunities. These jobs would have reactivated talented workers who had been dismissed when the facility was closed.

During the same time, we continued development of our patent-pending composite manufacturing system that enables energy efficient vehicle production by drastically reducing vehicle weight (by as much as 30%) while tripling its strength. This same patent pending system allowed us to finish the surface of our composites without manual finishing and without the high capital cost of a typical automotive paint shop. In all, the process would save nearly $750-million versus a typical volume auto assembly plant start-up.

We were well on the way to satisfying the vision of efficiency on which the company was founded and we are confident that with time and capital we could still achieve our goal. The Aptera formula: aerodynamics plus light weight design (through composites) delivered efficiency of 206 EPA miles per gallon in tests at Argonne National Labs. That wasn’t a simulation; it was real measured performance. Despite that promise of efficiency, this challenged market – specifically large private investors – did not have an appetite to lead an investment for the perceived low volume return of our three-wheeled vehicle. So we reprioritized our product plan to four-door sedans, which also cost us time.

We remain confident, even as this chapter closes, that Aptera has contributed tech new technologies to build a future for more efficient driving. Through the dedicated staff at Aptera, our board and suppliers we have touched this future. All that remains is for someone to grab it. We still believe it will happen.

Paul Wilbur

Read more: Automotive News… 

Headless Walking Robot Will Scare You

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here’s a couple of spooky videos from Boston Dynamics. They do DOD type research in robotic walking machines and have designed and built some pretty scary beasts. Here are two to help you celebrate All Hallows Day. Beware if this soulless pair wobble up your walk and  knock on your door tonight!

He’s Coming to Get You

Dig the sneaks!

PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot developed by Boston Dynamics for testing special clothing used by the US Army. PETMAN balances itself as it walks, squats and does simple calisthenics. PETMAN simulates human physiology by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating inside the clothing to provide realistic test conditions. PETMAN development is lead by Boston Dynamics, working in partnership with Measurement Technologies Northwest, Oak Ridge National Lab and MRIGlobal. The work is being done for the US Army PD-CCAT-TI. For more information about PETMAN visit  Boston Dynamics.

PETMAN’s Pet BigDog

Three generations of BigDog, including robot pup and recent highlights. 2004-2010

 Boston Dynamics is an engineering company that specializes in building dynamic robots and software for human simulation. The company began as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where National Academy of Engineering member Marc Raibert and his colleagues first developed robots that ran and maneuvered like animals. They founded the company in 1992, and their ground-breaking work continues to inspire several of the company’s activities.

Today the company creates a variety of innovative robots, including BigDog, a quadruped robot for travel on rough-terrain, PETMAN, an anthropomorphic robot for testing equipment, RISE, a robot that climbs vertical surfaces, SquishBot, a shape-changing chemical robot that moves through tight space, and many others.

Vested Outsourcing – Part 2

October 10, 2011

Innovators Interview with Scott R. Schroeder

This is Part 2 of our discussion of Vested Outsourcing with Scott Schroeder, president and CEO of Mega Tech of Oregon. In Part 1 Scott told us how and why he got interested in Vested Outsourcing and its basic principles.

In Part 2 he talks about who should consider using Vested Outsourcing and why it’s different. Scott is not alone in his praise of this new approach between companies and their suppliers.

“Vested Outsourcing is a game-changing approach that will quickly become the new gold standard for advanced outsourcing relationships. It is a critical enabler for Outsourcing 2.0.” Frank Casale – CEO, Outsourcing Institute

“Applying Vested Outsourcing’s Five Rules has the power to change the game of outsourcing.” Tim McBride Chief Procurement Officer, Microsoft

Vested Outsourcing with Scott Schroeder

In Part 2 we discuss:

  •  00:12 – Who should consider Vested Outsourcing
  • 04:00 – The Vested Outsourcing quadrant
  • 05:13 – Choosing a vested provider
  • 08:00 – Concurrent engineering collaboration
  • 09:10 – Seeking the Win/Win
  • 10:19 – Why Vested Outsourcing is different
  • 12:57 – Examples of where Vested Outsourcing is working

Was Adam Smith Wrong?

A Beautiful Mind is a biopic of the famed mathematician John Nash and his lifelong struggles with his mental health. Nash enrolled as a graduate student at Princeton in 1948 and almost immediately stood out as an odd duck. He devoted himself to finding something unique, a mathematical theorem that would be completely original. Details on IMDB…

Why Adam Smith may have got it wrong…

Read more…