Multimedia

Watch: Video projections float in mid-air. NASA plans for asteroid deflection. And a start-up promises a commercial solar car in two years.

10 July 2017

Interactive Screenless Projections

A French artist has added motion tracking to traditional video projections to make them appear like they are floating in air and following the viewer’s perspective. Unlike augmented reality and virtual reality, there is no device or screen required for this innovative technique. The artist is now improving her initial method using super fine particles of water, high pressure gas and custom nozzles to create true volumetric projections and build large installations in public spaces. Common tracking technologies like depth sensors and image analysis are used to allow interaction between the user and the projections.

NASA’s Asteroid Deflection Plan

Late last month, NASA approved the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, otherwise known as DART, the first-ever mission to deflect an asteroid. This approval means that the mission will now move from concept development to preliminary design phase and will demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique -- striking the asteroid to shift its orbit in order to defend against a potential future asteroid impact. This step advances the project toward a historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid.

The spacecraft that will be used in the mission will possess an on-board autonomous targeting system and will strike the smaller body at a speed about nine times faster than a bullet, approximately 3.7 miles per second. Earth-based observatories will be able to see the impact and the resulting change in the orbits to allow scientists to better determine the capabilities of kinetic impact as an asteroid mitigation strategy.

First Commercial Solar Car

Dutch start-up company Lightyear has just announced its plans to have a solar-powered car, which would not require a charge for months at a time, on the market by 2019. The company’s first vehicle, the Lightyear One, is an electric four-wheel drive car capable of handling rough terrain and has a battery range of nearly 500 miles. The company has teamed up with industry partners and will offer commercial models in just two years. The vehicle’s integrated solar cells on its roof will generate enough power to recharge the battery during the day and, according to the company, will render charging virtually unnecessary. In sunny climates the car can drive for months without charging. For longer trips, an overnight-charge using an ordinary power socket will suffice -- no need for electric car charging infrastructure.

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