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Drone Aircraft: How the Drones Got Their Stingers
Illustration: Frank Chimero

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's special report: Top 11 Technologies of the Decade

Cruising silently overhead, an unmanned Predator aircraft uses its infrared camera to pinpoint the telltale muzzle flashes from a sniper's rifle. The plane's operators, located half a world away, then unleash a Hellfire missile from under its wing, using a laser mounted beneath the craft's nose to guide the munition into the very window the sniper had been shooting from.

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"Nothing About Us Without Us"

Assistive technologies are often designed without involving the people these technologies are supposed to help. That needs to change.

3 min read
A photo of two people holding signs outside.  One is in a wheelchair.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images

Before we redesigned our website a couple of years ago, we took pains to have some users show us how they navigate our content or complete specific tasks like leaving a comment or listening to a podcast. We queried them about what they liked or didn’t like about how our content is presented. And we took onboard their experiences and designed a site and a magazine based on that feedback.

So when I read this month’s cover story by Britt Young about using a variety of high- and low-tech prosthetic hands, I was surprised to learn that much bionic-hand development is conducted without taking the lived experience of people who use artificial hands into account.

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Remembering LED Pioneer Nick Holonyak

He received the 2003 IEEE Medal of Honor

3 min read
close-up portrait of man wearing glasses and suspenders holding something between his fingers

Professor Nick Holonyak, Jr., inventor of the light-emitting diode, holds a part of a stoplight that utilizes brighter, current version LED's designed by students of his.

Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Getty Images

close-up portrait of man wearing glasses and suspenders holding something between his fingersNick Holonyak, Jr. holds a part of a stoplight that utilizes a newer LED designed by his students. Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Getty Images

Nick Holonyak Jr., a prolific inventor and longtime professor of electrical engineering and computing, died on 17 September at the age of 93. In 1962, while working as a consulting scientist at General Electric’s Advanced Semiconductor Laboratory, he invented the first practical visible-spectrum LED. It is now used in light bulbs and lasers.

Holonyak left GE in 1963 to become a professor of electrical and computer engineering and researcher at his alma mater, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He retired from the university in 2013.

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Technology Innovation Institute

Autonomous systems sit at the intersection of AI, IoT, cloud architectures, and agile software development practices. Various systems are becoming prominent, such as unmanned drones, self-driving cars, automated warehouses, and managing capabilities in smart cities. Little attention has been paid to securing autonomous systems as systems composed of multiple automated components. Various patchwork efforts have focused on individual components.

Cloud services are starting to adopt a Zero Trust approach for securing the chain of trust that might traverse multiple systems. It has become imperative to extend a Zero Trust architecture to systems of autonomous systems to protect not only drones, but also industrial equipment, supply chain automation, and smart cities.