Aviation and Sustainability

Recently, a new precedent was established concerning sustainability within the aviation industry. Greg McDougall, the owner of a seaplane charter company by the name of Harbour Air, based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, piloted an all-electric de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver (Wikipedia) for a short test flight over the Fraser River (Selkirk).

While the flight only lasted a couple of minutes, this groundbreaking experience served as a proof of concept for McDougall and his partner, magniX, the manufacturer of the engine, and a “technology firm” (Selkirk).

One major improvement upon traditional engines is the fact that, “electrical motors have fewer moving parts, meaning there’s less maintenance and less maintenance cost” (Selkirk). Furthermore, “the efficiency of a typical combustion engine for a plane like this is fairly low” (Selkirk), and due to the fact that an electrical engine does not produce any bi-products as a result of combustion, the plane will ultimately operate at a higher performance level (Selkirk).

One major drawback of electrical engines at this moment is the current power state of lithium ion batteries (Selkirk). Erika Holtz, “Harbour Air’s engineering and quality manager” (Selkirk), when interviewed within the article, she states that “the power density in aviation fuel is quite high, in the neighbourhood of 1,200 watt hours per kilogram…meanwhile in a lithium ion battery, it’s in the range of 200 watt hours per kilogram” (Holtz qtd. in Selkirk). However, due to the short flying distances encompassed by Harbour Air’s services, an all-electric engine has the range and ability to accomplish any flight formerly completed by combustion engines (Selkirk).

In my opinion, if the technology of batteries continues to advance, I can see all-electric flight dominating the aviation field in the near future. I believe that this development will not only redefine powered flight as humans understand it today, but has the potential to open new pathways to advancements within this industry.


“Is this the Start of an Aviation Revolution?” by Diane Selkirk (BBC News)(BBC Future Planet): https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200211-the-electric-plane-leading-a-revolution

“de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver” (Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Canada_DHC-2_Beaver

Implementation of a Robot on an Oil Rig

Spot, the dog-like robot companion from Boston Dynamics, will undergo one if its first operational tests on an an oil rig owned by Aker BP, a Norwegian oil company (Aker BP).

In partnership with Cognite, “a global industrial AI software-as-a-service (Saas) company” (Aker BP), Aker BP will employ numerous autonomous systems aboard the “Skarv installation” (Aker BP) in order to make the oil rig’s day-to-day “offshore operations safer, more efficient and more sustainable” (Aker BP).

According to the CEO of Aker BP in an interview within the article, “Digitalization will be one of the differentiators between the oil companies of the world, in order to be able to deliver low cost and low emissions. Our vision is to digitalize all our operations…Exploring the potential of robotics offshore underpin our digital journey” (Hersvik qtd. in Aker BP). I believe that this idea of digitization giving organizations the upper hand will prove to become more prominent within the upcoming years. Spot’s experience will set a precedent as to whether humans are ready to incorporate robots into their work environments, and if robots are technologically advanced enough to be effective coworkers.

It will be very interesting to see how this robot will perform in a hazardous environment such as a drilling operation. If this trial proves to be beneficial for Aker BP, a new window could possibly open concerning the role of machines in human work environments.

Here is the launch video for Spot- “Spot Launch” by Boston Dynamics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=72&v=wlkCQXHEgjA&feature=emb_title

“Spot Autonomous Navigation” by Boston Dynamics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve9kWX_KXus&feature=emb_rel_pause


Discover Article (Not Used in Post)- “Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog is going to Work on an Oil Rig” by Kristin Houser of the Futurism Publication: https://futurism.com/the-byte/boston-dynamics-robot-dog-work-oil-rig

Exploring the Potential of Robotics in the Oil and Gas Industry” by Aker BP: https://www.akerbp.com/en/exploring-the-potential-of-robotics-in-the-oil-and-gas-industry/

Exolung: The Future of Amateur Diving

A surprisingly low-tech solution has the ability to create a new domain in underwater recreation. The exolung is an innovative apparatus that enables the user to artificially breathe underwater without the use of compressed air in a tank according to the product’s website (exolung). Utilizing an external diaphragm mounted to the chest of the user and a tube that draws air from above the surface of the water, the user simply extends their legs, which are attached to a pull tab on the diaphragm, to draw air into the diaphragm, and retract their legs to force the air into the respirator stored in the device. During the extension movement, the user also exhales, allowing waste gas to be expelled from the system (exolung).

Due to the fact that this product is quite resourceful in its use of materials for construction, and is simple in design, the proposed retail price is below three-hundred euros (exolung). Unfortunately, however, this new technology is still in the prototype phase and has not yet been produced for retail (exolung).

In my view, I believe that this device will not only draw a newfound amount of attention to underwater activities such as SCUBA diving and snorkeling, but will also develop its own following due to its affordability, practicality, and accessibility. Furthermore, the exolung could potentially revolutionize the way humans see the underwater domain and open new doors to human interest in nautical nature and conservation.


Discovery Video (Not Used in Post): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyWC85asxn0

Exolung Website: https://www.exolung.com/


According to, “This Company Built a Gigantic Centrifuge to Fling Rockets Into Space“, an article written by Courtney Linder and published by Popular Mechanics, SpinLaunch, a newcomer to the pursuit of space exploration, plans to enter Earth’s orbit through the use of a unique launch system.

In describing the procedure for takeoff, Linder states that “a centrifuge the size of a football  will spin a rocket around in circles for about an hour until its speed eventually exceeds 5,000 miles per hour. At that point, the rocket and its payload will feel forces 10,000 times stronger than gravity. When the centrifuge finally releases the rocket at launch speed, it should, practically speaking, fly through the stratosphere until it fires its engines at the periphery of our atmosphere” (Linder).

SpinLaunch claims that this action will account for a large portion of the distance needed to enter orbit, and that fuel-based boosters will only be used in a small portion of the rocket’s flight (SpinLaunch via Wired and Popular Mechanics)(Oberhaus)(Linder).

While the rocket and payload will undergo immense stress, the company has reportedly completed successful tests on cargo within their smaller-scale, test centrifuge. That being said, this test model does not induce the same increased force of gravity as SpinLaunch’s ideal centrifuge (SpinLaunch via Wired and Popular Mechanics)(Oberhaus)(Linder).

The centrifuge holds promise, and “in June, SpinLaunch signed a responsive launch prototype contract with the Department of Defense to build out its kinetic energy-based launch system that will provide a lower-cost option for the ever-growing satellite industry” according to Linder (Linder).

In my opinion, I believe that this technology has the potential to revolutionize space travel as it is known today. The development of a reusable launch system and minimal use of rocket propulsion of fuel will most likely reduce the cost of launching a satellite into orbit immensely. Hopefully, this reduced price tag will aid in human research efforts in Earth’s immediate orbit and bolster mankind’s understanding of space itself.


Article: “Inside SpinLaunch, the Space Industry’s Best Kept Secret”(Daniel Oberhaus)(Wired Magazine)- https://www.wired.com/story/inside-spinlaunch-the-space-industrys-best-kept-secret/

Article: “This Company Built a Gigantic Centrifuge to Fling Rockets Into Space”(Courtney Linder)(Popular Mechanics)- https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a30716423/spinlaunch-centrifuge-rocket/

Claims from SpinLaunch can only be found as they are reported on the websites of Popular Mechanics or Wired Magazine.

Gun Detection in Las Vegas

As examined in, “The Las Vegas Resort Using Microwaves to Keep Guns Out of its Casino”, an article written by Robbie Gonzalez and published by Wired Magazine, a new technology is being tested at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino that has the ability to detect concealed firearms (Gonzalez).

According to Gonzalez, the device is the, “Patscan Cognitive Microwave Radar. Marketed by Canadian security outfit PatriotOne, the Patscan CMR combines short-range radar with machine learning algorithms to scan individual guests for guns, knives, and bombs in real time—without forcing them to line up and walk through metal detectors” (Gonzalez). Furthermore, this system is fairly small is rather concealable (Gonzalez).

Concerning the specifics of the CMR’s operation, “the first antenna emits 1,000 pulses of electromagnetic radiation per second, at frequencies between 500 MHz and 5 Ghz” (Gonzalez) while “the second antenna monitors for electromagnetic patterns inside that two-meter range. When you hit an object with electromagnetic radiation, it resonates according to its shape and material…pistols, grenades, rifles…all resonate in the frequency range that Patscan emits” (Gonzalez).

Finally, Patscan utilizes a computer and a de-facto radar signature library that can be added to in order to identify potential threats and inform local police forces (Gonzalez).

In my perspective, I view this development as a positive and ethical utilization of machine learning. Unlike facial recognition, the CMR does not necessarily care about who an individual is but rather what they are carrying. In addition, I believe that the operational procedure of this product is very “hands off” and seems to require no input or manipulation from the customer or the resort staff.

It will be interesting to follow the Patscan CMR as it progresses through its testing phase and possibly into everyday use at public hotspots such as airports, museums, or sporting events.


Article: “The Las Vegas Resort Using Microwaves to Keep Guns Out of its Casino”(Robbie Gonzalez)(Wired Magazine)- https://www.wired.com/story/the-las-vegas-resort-using-microwaves-to-keep-guns-out-of-its-casino/

The Simplification of the Cellular Experience

According to, “Google Designs ‘Digital Wellbeing’ Envelope that Hides your Phone from Yourself”, an article published by Design Boom, a digital magazine that focuses on architecture and design, a special projects studio under Google is working on a new, innovative way to limit users’ screen time. The solution? A surprisingly low-tech fix consisting of an envelope designed to limit the usefulness of google’s latest edition of the Pixel (Design Boom).

To utilize this function, the user simply downloads an app on their Pixel and seals their phone within the paper envelope. From this point, depending on the type of concealment, “one envelope turns your phone into a very basic device which can only make and receive calls, while the other turns your phone into a photo and video camera with no screen” (Design Boom).

I believe that this concept does have some value behind it. Utilizing a physical object to hinder one’s usage of their phone will most likely be more effective than an individual setting a personal goal of limiting their screen time. Furthermore, I especially like the fact that the envelope is relatively inexpensive and easy to use, so much so that it almost makes reducing one’s screen time an easy feat.


“Google Designs ‘Digital Wellbeing’ Envelope that Hides your Phone from Yourself” (Design Boom):https://www.designboom.com/technology/google-digital-wellbeing-envelope-hides-phone-special-projects-01-22-2020/

Discovery Article, “Google Designed an Envelope you can use to Hide your Phone from Yourself”, (Not Used in the Blog Post): https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/21/21076204/google-digital-wellbeing-envelope-activity-bubble-screen-stopwatch

Media- “Envelope – Temporarily Transform your Phone into a Simpler, Calmer Device” by Special Projects on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au14zEGkRaQ

Lockheed Martin’s Helicopter of the Future

The RAIDER X is the newest helicopter concept developed by Sikorsky, an affiliate of Lockheed Martin (Lockheed Martin). According to the organization’s website, the “RAIDER X is specifically designed as a prototype for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype competition, part of the service’s effort to revolutionize its enduring aircraft fleet as part of what is known as Future Vertical Lift” (Lockheed Martin).

Some aspects of what sets the RAIDER X apart from contemporary helicopters include its ability to slow its airspeed when diving on a target, and accelerate and decelerate without losing or gaining altitude on a lateral plane. These attributes are due to a propellor located on the tail of the aircraft that also provides counter-rotation for the helicopter (Lockheed Martin).

In my view, the RAIDER X boasts exceptional improvements to the traditional helicopter systems of today and looks as if it will greatly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of special warfare assets utilizing this platform.

Below is a video of the helicopter demonstrating its combat potential from Lockheed Martin.


Lockheed Martin: https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/fara-raider-x.html

Media- “Meet Sikorski RAIDER X”: https://youtu.be/LpQC_qpkRRE

The United States Space Force

As of 20 December 2019, the United States Space Force is now the newest branch of the armed forces (Military). The USSF will be tasked with “[organizing, training, and equipping] space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force” (Space Force) in addition to “developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands” (Space Force).

The reason for creation of the USSF comes from the United States’ lacking ability in the space domain when compared to peer adversaries such as Russia and China according to an article published by the Heritage Foundation (Heritage).

As of now, this branch in not fully independent its recruitment efforts and the former “Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) was re-designated as the USSF as an initial step…” (Space Force).

Personally, I welcome the United States Space Force due to the fact that I believe this frontier will become a crucial asset in the next major conflict. While physical engagements may not occur outside the atmosphere of Earth, it is my opinion that maintaining space superiority will lend the upper hand to the United States when engaged in a combat situation with near peer adversaries due to its unique opportunities for surveillance, and oversight of military operations.


The United States Space Force Website (Fact Sheet): https://www.spaceforce.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheet

United State Space Force (Military.com): https://www.military.com/space-force

Does The United States Need a Space Force?: https://www.heritage.org/space-policy/heritage-explains/does-the-united-states-need-space-force

Media: “Propelling Satellites in to Space”: https://www.spaceforce.mil/Connect-With-Us/Photos?igphoto=2002227181