On 25 July 2000, a Concorde jet crashed upon take-off in Paris, killing 113 people. The cause of the accident was later identified as a metal strip on the runway that had fallen off another plane. When the jet ran over it, its tyre burst and shredded pieces caused a fuel tank to rupture, resulting in a devastating fire.
Almost a decade later, in January 2009, a US Airways flight struck a flock of geese shortly after take-off in New York City, losing engine power. Fortunately, there were no deaths this time as fast-acting pilot Chesley Sullenberger managed to ditch the plane safely in the Hudson River.
Three incidents with quite different causes – a foreign object on the runway, birds and a drone – but with a high cost in lives, money or both.
Yet these are just some of the highest-profile air incidents, with smaller-scale ones more common. Foreign object debris (FOD) on runways and bird strikes, for example, cost the airline industry billions of euros annually and create lengthy delays for passengers.
In the 10 years before Covid-19 hit, air passenger numbers were skyrocketing. Despite the setbacks arising from the pandemic, the only way is up as air travel returns and airports get busier.
‘If the number of departures increases, then the amount of foreign object debris being spilled will also increase,’ said Torsten Leth Elmkjær, CEO and founder of Nordic Radar Solutions in Aarhus, Denmark. ‘It is important that you don’t have to hold the entire airport on standby because somebody is looking for FOD.’
Even very small objects can cause significant damage to aircraft moving at high speeds, with screws, bolts and maintenance tools classified as FOD. Added to that is the relatively recent rise in threat from drones.
Elmkjær’s company is developing a new radar system to deal with the multiple threats. Its FODDBASA project has aimed at real-time identification of hazardous objects within a 10-kilometre radius of runways.
Airports often rely on vehicle patrols for runway inspections, but these take time and may not spot everything. Unfortunately, Elmkjær said, the use of radar-based options at airports has been limited by their high cost compared to their feature set, including the use of separate systems for FOD and birds. On top of that, there is now a need to take drones into account.
Nordic Radar Solutions has tried to tackle this with its FODDBASA technology by creating an integrated system to address all three issues at once to help improve cost-effectiveness while using fewer radars per airport. ‘I think we have rather unique radar technology,’ said Elmkjær. ‘The three-in-one system is our unique selling point.’
The radars that his company has been developing operate in a higher frequency band of the electromagnetic spectrum than that of some other systems, with the aim of detecting objects smaller than 1 centimetre. Use of this so-called Ka-band spectrum at about 35 gigahertz (GHz), is combined with highly sensitive antennas to detect weak signals from far away.
However, while Elmkjær believes that the initial project was 70% successful, his team found that the radar frequency was not high enough for the required performance levels.
But he is positive it will be possible to achieve the right performance with some adjustment. Nordic Radar Solutions has already developed a system that operates at 92 to 98 GHz, which now needs to go through further testing. ‘I have a good feeling that we will soon turn this into a commercial product,’ said Elmkjær.
Much of the potential, he believes, comes from Asia and the Middle East, where many airports are planned and legacy systems are not already in place. ‘In Asia and the Middle East, they’re planning new airports and they will have the newest technology available,’ said Elmkjær. ‘It’s easier to install these kinds of systems when you plan airports.’
Established locations such as Copenhagen Airport have also shown interest.
In addition, Nordic Radar Solutions will offer the systems separately. ‘Some are happy to enter just with a FOD-only system, but with the option to purchase the add-ons necessary to have the full three-in-one solution.’ Others, such as military airports in Denmark and Belgium, are more interested in systems for drone detection.
In the end, such radar systems have big benefits when considering the alternative of not having them, said Elmkjær. ‘These systems are affordable when compared to the amount of damage that can occur if you don’t detect that something bad might happen,’ he said.
On board aircraft, certain features need to be refined and enhanced for both safety and operational benefits as aviation technology advances. This includes windows capable of handling bird strikes at faster speeds and offering anti-icing and anti-fogging functions.
The Wimper project has focused on the development of windshields and window coatings. They are intended for use in state-of-the-art helicopter-type aircraft developed by Airbus as part of the EU-funded Clean Sky 2 project, which aims to develop cleaner air transport technologies for a greener economy.
The Racer, a demonstrator aircraft reportedly on course to make its maiden flight later this year, is intended to cruise at more than 400 kilometres per hour – compared to an average helicopter’s top speed of about 260 kilometres per hour.
The aim is to optimise trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency and performance, while demonstrating the advantage of high speed for missions such as emergency medical and rescue services.
Matthias Tretter, head of R&D at KRD Sicherheitstechnik in Geesthacht, Germany, which makes products under the Kasiglas brand and led the Wimper project, explained that his company has manufactured aircraft windows for some years using impact-resistant polycarbonate materials that work fine on lower-speed helicopters. However, the Racer made it necessary to upgrade the windows for higher-speed situations.
The structure of the windows did not require much modification other than some changes in thickness. The main alterations were to the window coatings, said Tretter. For this, his team used a lightweight glaze, while gluing techniques were harnessed to avoid the use of heavier screws that also create holes in the windows.
‘We have shown that we can resist bird strikes with this very thin thickness of polycarbonate,’ he said. ‘You have this polycarbonate window with the bird-strike resistance and on top you have functional coatings for abrasion resistance.’
Testing was performed with ‘jelly’ birds made from gelatine, with the windows able to withstand strikes at high speeds, said Tretter.
Not only was that successful, he said, but KRD also managed to add cutting-edge anti-fog and anti-ice capabilities on the inside and outside of the windows, creating a significant advantage for helicopters.
The big advantage of using such coatings is that functions can be added to windows without reducing their transparency. It also offers the potential to reduce the need for heating and air-conditioning systems, giving scope to cut the weight and energy consumption of future flights.
These functions all promise to lead to better, safer and more efficient flight, said Tretter.
‘If you don’t have ice and you therefore don’t need heating for the window, you can fly off faster,’ he added.
The research in this article was funded by the EU. If you liked this article, please consider sharing it on social media.
What is a web application and how to build it?
Web applications are so popular that an ordinary user does not always notice the difference between a website and a web application. These programs interact with a mobile browser and therefore are gradually replacing desktop solutions from the niche of education, media, and entertainment. Companies order web applications for businesses, e-commerce, and startups. In this article, we will discuss why you should order a web application from web development companies in Washington DC.
A web application is a program with a two-tier client-server architecture. The client interacts with the user interface (UI/UX) through web browser pages. All data is stored on the server, the exchange takes place over the network using HTTP/HTTPS protocols.
The web application works as a cross-platform program regardless of the operating system in the mobile version (Android or iOS) and desktop (Mac OS, Windows, Linux). Running the program does not load the device, and only a browser on the Internet is needed to work.
The appearance of a web application depends on the distribution of logic between the client and the server. The program is created for specific business tasks. For example, Infoshell is ordered to develop the following types of web services:
- Portal Web App (portals of increased complexity).
Multifunctional project for effective optimization of business processes.
- improve the quality of customer service;
- improve the performance of employees;
- improve communication between departments of the company;
- ensure the mobility of employees;
- make it easier to work with documents;
- give the opportunity to hold PR events of any complexity.
- Custom-designed systems.
CRM is a powerful tool for automating work with customers, effectively solving the problems of control, and planning for business development.
- maintain the integrity of the client base;
- provide sales analytics;
- increase sales;
- optimize the work of staff;
- reduce paperwork.
- ERP system is developed for large enterprises, it opens up new business opportunities.
- standardize reporting forms and information systems;
- improve communication between departments;
- synchronize processes;
- establish integration with partners.
- E-commerce systems (E-commerce, Marketplaces).
E-commerce provides services/products to customers through the web. Clients receive and process orders, and manage the status of applications.
- receive detailed information about the requests of individual consumers;
- promote a new product on the market;
- reduce transaction costs;
- shorten the path of the product to the consumer.
Web apps are dynamically progressing, which allows you to develop custom mobile applications and complex web services. These programs are easy to develop and cost-effective due to these advantages:
- Cross-platform compatibility. There is no need to develop a separate platform. The program is available in a smartphone or computer browser (Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera), on any operating system.
- Network security. Programs process requests through the secure HTTPS data transfer protocol. The entry point is protected by a centralized configuration. User data is stored on a cloud server, protected from loss even if the hard drive is damaged.
- Do not use client software. It is installed regardless of the characteristics of the hardware. Installation is not expensive, and the update is downloaded automatically on the server. The client interface is updated automatically the next time the page is loaded.
- Reduced costs. There is no requirement to develop a platform for Android and iOS. Functionally, it is not inferior in performance to its desktop counterparts.
- Scalability. A large amount of data is processed by hardware resources without rewriting the code, as well as changing the architecture.
Let’s consider the necessary stages of web application development.
- Creation of UI/UX design.
An intuitive interface of the working model of the program is created without programming steps.
Experts pay attention to:
- screen transitions,
- image graphics,
- branding elements,
- buttons and forms.
Visual elements are created in the design of a web application to include the user registration process, login, search/placement/order of goods, navigation, profile creation, and making payments.
- Backend development.
The key stage of creating the internal part determines the entire operation of the web application. At this stage, a structure invisible to the client is created – a database, a server, and business logic. Developers use the following programming languages for server operations: PHP, Python, Java, and C#. In the internal development of server applications, frameworks are used: Node.js, Laravel, Flask, Ruby on Rails, and others.
During internal development developers perform:
- servicing external interface requests,
- authorization with client authentication at login,
- creating, reading, and updating data.
- Front-end development.
At this stage, developers test the responsiveness and usability of the interface on different types of devices so that the user experience is consistent. The speed of work should not depend on the size or resolution of the screen.
- Software testing.
Experts conduct testing of all important software operations. Most common tests:
- Usability testing of the interface (quantitative + qualitative research). Experts check connectivity, database connectivity, links between pages, and overall user experience.
- Performance check – data transfer rate, rendering, user input processing. The work is checked under heavy load, as well as at different Internet speeds.
- Interface Testing (UI Testing) – the convenience of the user interface is determined, as well as the work of the server with the internal part of the system.
- Compatibility – the product is tested on different browsers and devices.
- Security – check for weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
- Hosting and deploying a web application.
After purchasing a domain and choosing cloud storage, the hosting provider runs a web application on the server for users to access in a browser. Deployment requires:
- source code repository;
- webserver with SSH deployment key setup;
- SSH access to the server.
A web application is a site with interactive elements. They allow users to interact: click buttons, fill out forms, request a price, and make purchases. Email clients, social networks, search engines, online stores, and project management programs are all examples of such applications. If you are thinking about web application development, Inoxoft is a great choice. The company turns web applications into powerful tools to meet customers’ requirements and fulfill end-user expectations.
Why should M-Learning be the preferred method of training?
Technology continues to progress in leaps and bounds, affecting every aspect of daily life. Mobile devices are the assets that will do everything and hold all the essential information for you, from choosing to stay connected to browsing information at a glance to managing tasks.
One area where technology has had a significant impact is in the field of education. Organizations have continued to expand their workforce globally over the last decade to attract the best skills. If these employees had to travel from one location to another, it would cost a fortune to provide them with the best-in-class training courses. It also consumes a significant amount of productive time for employees. To overcome this challenge, organizations have come up with e-learning programs that one can take up from anywhere with no location constraint.
With further advancements in technology, smartphones have started to replace the desktop. The same happened with the learning programs as well, and the learning management systems were developed in such a way that the course content could be accessed from any kind of device. The organizations now develop courses that can easily be downloaded on your mobile phones, thus making it easy for the learner to access them anywhere, anytime.
Since the term “mobile learning” was coined, its popularity has increased. In a post-pandemic world, the importance of mobile learning has grown exponentially. Even before the pandemic, training evoked the feeling of a confined space with a trainer giving instructions. However, virtual training is now the standard method of instruction, where organizations, hiring managers, and employees can interact and benefit from m-learning.
Though there are plenty of advantages to learning through mobile learning, listed below are some of the important factors for leveraging it.
Although the use of mobile apps is increasing. It was not recommended for formal training since developing a user-friendly app takes time and effort. It could also be used to create online tests or performance assistance tools in situations where design and aesthetic appeal are affected.
The courses delivered through mobile apps are made into smaller chunks of topics that are easier to grasp and learn without breaking the continuity. These bite-sized micro lessons are easy to access for brushing up or referring to the context.
The content developed supports multiple devices. This means that the user can log in from various devices like desktops, laptops, mobiles, tablets, etc. The content is curated in a way that optimizes itself based on the device, so you get a seamless experience from all the devices.
Your staff will be able to study the training content at their own pace with a corporate LMS. You will be able to remove the interruptions related to traditional learning. You can reduce worker training costs through m-learning options. This is because you will spend far less time and expense than if you brought in specialized teachers to give conventional seminars. You will also have an improved understanding of the individual’s progress with incorporated reporting and monitoring tools.
With handheld devices becoming a part of our lives, m-learning provides the flexibility of accessing the course material from anywhere without turning the pages of those bulky books. Also, searching for the required information is much easier with the search option. Instead of making lengthy notes, you can easily learn through interactive multimedia options provided through m-learning.
Because of the accessibility of mobile phones, a learner can instantly turn to their peer group when a question is raised and get it resolved. Mobile learning facilitates collaboration, sharing of ideas, suggestions, and conversation. All of this will increase employee and trainer involvement and communication.
While going through the chapters, you might come up with many doubts that used to remain unanswered while studying through traditional methods. You even tend to lose interest in the subject if the doubts keep piling up. In the case of m-learning, you get the option of collaborative learning, where you can be a part of online communities. These social communities help you resolve your queries and doubts and share knowledge, making the topics more interesting and engaging.
It is difficult for humans to focus for long periods of time. Normally, we take small breaks to freshen up, either by playing games or by watching videos. These modes are great stress-busters. Imagine if lessons could be delivered in the form of videos and assessments in the form of games; learning any new concept, no matter how complex, would be enjoyable. M-learning does the same, making the program more engaging and interactive.
Gamifying the m-learning process engages learners. The more invested and involved they are, the better they will learn and benefit the organization. Gamification keeps learners engaged and can result in high success rates. They encourage healthy challenges and provide bonuses and points to trainees and students. When you want to start something different and interesting, gamification is a great option.
With all the benefits mentioned above, it is easy to get involved in learning any new topic. It keeps the learners engaged and motivates them to complete the program by breaking the monotony of reading long paragraphs from the book. With this kind of learning, knowledge retention is also for a longer period, and the learner ends up getting better grades in their evaluations.
Reading lengthy paragraphs and articles to learn a concept is not one looks forward to. The advancement of technology and mobile phones has done a good thing for the world. It keeps humans more linked to one another. Mobile learning tends to increase commitment and motivation, resulting in a high return on investment in training. As a result, there are multiple reasons to use m-learning to boost employee interaction. The m-learning programs are designed to overcome this by fitting in only the required content on the screen without scrolling up and down making learning responsive.
Robochop makes garden trimming a snip
by Andrew Dunne
Automation and computer-aided designs are seeding the future of home gardens. With the onset of designer gardens as a service and rose-pruning robots, weekends spent toiling in the garden will be more productive and personalised.
Gardening is proven to be healthful and joyful, but as more of us discover the joys of working in the garden for the first time, some basic knowledge about plants, landscaping and soil is required to get started. What, where and when should you plant, for instance?
These were some of the core questions co-founder of the start-up Draw Me A Garden (DMAG), Florent De Salaberry, realised were standing in the way of more people digging in to the subject.
‘Many people want to garden, but lots of us just don’t have the expertise or confidence to begin,’ said the French tech entrepreneur.
DMAG is an app and website service which offers tailored 3D-plans for garden design. It helps budding gardeners to transform any plot into a beautiful, sustainable garden with ease.
The inspiration behind the company’s name comes from the children’s book ‘Le Petit Prince’ in which the prince requests the narrator to ‘draw me a sheep’ to start a conversation and build a relationship.
De Salaberry says “Draw Me A Garden” uses digital tools in a similar way to help people build a relationship with nature in their gardens.
The DMAG service helps customers envisage their dream garden by providing creative ideas, planting tips and, most important of all, delivering all the plants to their door.
Giving customers ownership of their creations is what distinguishes DMAG from traditional landscaping, argues De Salaberry. ‘We know that if you just pay people to landscape your garden, not only is that really expensive but it’s also hard to feel pride in it,’ he said.
‘DMAG is about making gardening easy and affordable, and providing the resources to enable customers to be at the heart of their own projects.’
Customers locate their garden online via a satellite map. Next, they list any pre-existing features such as a terrace or a child’s play area, then select a preferred garden style, such as for example English cottage garden or Mediterranean.
Behind the scenes, DMAG’s algorithm whirrs away using these inputs together with local knowledge (soil type, elevation, sun direction) to map out the perfect garden design. Customers can visualise the design using 3D mapping tools on the DMAG website.
A qualified landscaper supports the design process and the customer receives a number of planning options to mull over.
Results come back almost instantaneously. ‘The idea was always to enable customers to do this wherever or whenever they wanted and it takes just a few seconds to get the first design back,’ said De Salaberry.
Once further small refinements are made, a 3D view is rendered, and customers can sit back and wait for all plants and growing instructions to be delivered.
A typical delivery might consist of between 200 – 300 plants. These come with biodegradable cardboard scaffolds cut to the exact garden size and instructions to help the gardeners plant them out.
So far, the DMAG team have supplied to gardeners of all kinds in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, with average expenditure of around €1 500.
De Salaberry likens his turnkey garden concept to how IKEA has revolutionised kitchen design.
As they look to scale-up this work in new EU countries and the US, they hope many more people will soon be asking them to start their gardening journey and “draw me a garden.”
If DMAG can help gardeners create the ideal future garden space, then the TrimBot2020 might be the answer to help maintain it.
The brainchild of computer vision and robotics’ expert, Professor Bob Fisher of the University of Edinburgh, TrimBot2020 is one of the first robot gardening devices that promises to do more than simply mow the lawn.
Based on a modified commercially available robot lawnmower, the autonomous vehicle prunes roses, trims hedges and shapes topiary, all while auto-navigating garden terrain.
To achieve this, the robot uses a ring of cameras to draw a 3D map of the garden, some robotic snippers and hefty dose of computer processing power.
‘There are ten cameras which work together to build up a 3D model of the garden, just like our eyes do,’ said Fisher.
Together, these cameras help the robot gain a 360-degree view of the complex terrain of the garden. The robot also matches what it sees to a hand drawn map supplied by the users.
Upon command, the TrimBot springs into life by rolling up to the bush and scanning it to build up a computer-vision model of that particular plant.
‘Once it has an idea of where all the stems are, its robotic arm comes out with the cutter and it starts snipping away,’ said Fisher.
For the TrimBot team, the commercial target market is horticultural businesses responsible for maintaining parks, gardens, and recreational areas.
In such cases, they believe the robot can take on pruning duties while the human gardener does something more challenging.
While the commercial future of TrimBot is yet to be determined, the real benefits may yet come through incorporating the technology into the “brains” of next-generation of garden robots.
‘Outdoor robotics is notoriously hard,’ said Fisher. Typical challenges include constant lighting changes, the many different shades of green and variations in the terrain.
Current robot lawnmowers usually require users to mark out an exact area to mow and to position a robot in the right place to start. TrimBot’s technology should enable robots of tomorrow to work that out themselves.
‘With the TrimBot project we’ve really demonstrated what might be possible in the future,’ said Fisher.
The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
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