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German-U.S. Company to Loft Segmented, Self-Steering Airship

It's a flying tadpole! It's a floating snake! It's a... what the heck is that thing?

3 min read

26 August 2009—Weather permitting, a new type of aerial robot will take to the skies over Stuttgart, Germany, next week. Looking like something from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the new segmented airship is actually a serious contender for border security, emergency and battlefield communications, and other applications that call for long-duration, high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Unlike dirigibles, blimps, and other aircraft in the ”lighter than air” category, the new airship isn’t piloted or controlled remotely: From takeoff through landing, its flight control is entirely autonomous. No other airship has such a capability, says Bernd Kröplin, a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart and one of the airship’s inventors.

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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