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The Military

Submission + - US Air Force's 1950s supersonic flying saucer declassified (extremetech.com) 2

MrSeb writes: "Tighten the strap on your tinfoil hat: Recently declassified documents show that the US Air Force was working on, and perhaps had already built, a supersonic flying saucer in 1956. The aircraft, which had the code name Project 1794, was developed by the USAF and Avro Canada in the 1950s. One declassified memo, which seems to be the conclusion of initial research and prototyping, says that Project 1794 is a flying saucer capable of “between Mach 3 and Mach 4,” (2,300-3,000 mph) a service ceiling of over 100,000 feet (30,500m), and a range of around 1,000 nautical miles (1,150mi, 1850km). According to declassified cutaway diagrams, the supersonic flying saucer would propel itself by rotating an outer disk at very high speed, taking advantage of the Coand effect. Maneuvering would be accomplished by using small shutters on the edge of the disc (similar to ailerons on a winged aircraft). Power would be provided by jet turbines. According to the cutaway diagrams, the entire thing would even be capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL). The fact that there are no disc-shaped aircraft in the skies today, though, suggests that the USAF's flying saucer efforts probably never got past the prototype stage."
Printer

Submission + - The world's first 3D-printed gun (extremetech.com) 1

MrSeb writes: "An American gunsmith has become the first person to construct and shoot a pistol partly made out of plastic, 3D-printed parts. The creator, who goes by the name HaveBlue and is an AR-15/M16 enthusiast, has reportedly fired 200 rounds with his part-plastic pistol without any sign of wear and tear. HaveBlue’s custom creation is a .22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper. In other words, the main body of the gun is plastic, while the chamber — where the bullets are actually struck — is solid metal. While this pistol obviously wasn’t created from scratch using a 3D printer, the interesting thing is that the lower receiver — in a legal sense at least — is what actually constitutes a firearm. This means that people without gun licenses — or people who have had their licenses revoked — could print their own lower receiver and build a complete, off-the-books gun."
Robotics

Submission + - DARPA reveals Avatar program, robot soldiers incoming (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "DARPA, the bleeding-edge research wing of the United States Department of Defense, has revealed that it will spend millions of dollars on a project called “Avatar.” If you’ve seen the movie of the same name — the highest-grossing movie of all time — let me put your mind at rest: DARPA isn’t looking to genetically engineer blue-skinned aliens that humans can control; no, they’re developing robots . In the words of DARPA itself, the Avatar program will work on “interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bipedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.” In other words, DARPA wants to develop the walking equivalent of an unarmed aerial vehicle; a bipedal robot drone where the controlling soldier is hundreds or thousands of miles away from war front."

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