Kickass new patents: Boeing solves the transportation puzzle…with a unified lift vehicle

Kickass new patents: Boeing solves the transportation puzzle…with a unified lift vehicle
Credit: Shutterstock

This week, the US patent office issued 6680 patents.

Each patent adds a little something new to the human knowledge base. As we cannot list all six thousand, the PatentYogi team has selected the five most interesting patents.

Boeing invents a unified lift vehicle

Patent Number – US 9,457,899


Boeing may have solved the transportation problem forever.

Helicopters and similar lift vehicles are commonly used to lift payloads and transport them from one location to another.

If a payload larger than the capacity of the lift vehicle, the entire payload is divided into multiple payload portions, each being a size and weight that is within the safe allowable lifting capacity of the lift vehicle to be used during the operation.  Thereafter, the lift vehicle makes multiple trips to lift and move all of the payload portions from point A to point B until the entire payload has been moved.  This approach increases the cost, time and risk associated with the operation.

Now, Boeing has invented a unified lift vehicle that can be quickly reconfigured based on the weight and size of the payload.

The unified lift vehicle is a modular vehicle system that includes multiple drones which can be connected together. Each drone will have individual capacity to carry a certain weight.  Therefore, if the weight of a payload is less than the capacity of a single drone, then a single drone is used to transfer the payload. However, if the payload is heavier than the capacity of a single drone, then multiple drones are connected together to build a lift vehicle that can carry the heavy payloads.

Drones are expected to be used for transporting objects and people in near future. The unified lift vehicle patented by Boeing could be widely used as it provides a lot of flexibility for various end users.

Disney plans to 3D print fabric based objects

Patent Publication Number – US 20160288417


3D printing is used to manufacture custom objects on demand.  Today, the technology is gaining widespread acceptance at homes, and commercial suppliers and retailers to create custom objects.

Typically, 3D printers print an object using materials such as plastic, ceramics and metal.

Disney has now invented a 3D printer that can print objects using fabric.  The fabric may be a natural fiber, such as wool, cotton, silk, linen; or a synthetic fiber such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, rayon, and spandex; and may even be a semi-synthetic fiber.

The 3D printer first cuts a fabric into multiple layers, which, in turn, are bonded together to create the 3D object being printed.  The printer includes a laser to cut each layer of the fiber.  The adjacent layers are then bonded together.

For example, the Stanford bunny model (shown in the figure above) can be printed with invented 3D printer.  The bunny model consists of 32 layers of acrylic felt fabric resulting in a 64 mm high final product.  The printing process preserves most of the details in the underlying 3D digital model, like the nose and ears.

Further, the cutting strategy used by the 3D printer automatically provides support to overhung features, as the fabric from the bounding shape of the previous layer serves as support for overhangs.

Boeing receives a patent for a reusable space launch system

Patent Number – US 9,457,918


Space X, Amazon and Boeing are currently engaged in a battle to conquer space.  Recently, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that Boeing would be sending the first humans to Mars, and not SpaceX.

One of the key technologies that these companies are competing on is the reusable launch systems, which are capable of launching a payload into space more than once.  No completely reusable orbital launch system has ever been created; however, several partially reusable launch systems have been developed.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin have formed a joint venture, United Launch Alliance, to develop such a reusable rocket.

A recent patent granted to Boeing discloses a unique multi-stage space launch system, which includes two stages and a thrust augmentation stage.  The thrust augmentation stage includes a bore that engages with the first stage. The thrust augmentation stage and the first stage both provide thrust during the initial portion of a launch, and the first stage continues to provide thrust during the launch trajectory following the thrust augmentation stage.

Further, the thrust augmentation stage is configured to selectively decouple from the first stage during the launch trajectory.  Thereafter, the thrust augmentation stage descends in a controlled manner to land vertically on Earth. It is subsequently retrieved and reused for another launch.

DJI is working on drone-to-car technology

Patent Number – US 9,457,915


A recent patent granted to DJI discloses a drone that docks with a ground vehicle, such as, a car, a truck, a van, or a bus.

The drone can take off and also land on the vehicle. The drone may be used to capture images and stream the images live to a display within the vehicle. The vehicle can control the drone during flight.  The drone is capable of distinguishing the companion vehicle from other vehicles within 5 kilometers of the companion vehicle.

A user may use the drone to survey a traffic jam and find alternate routes.  Further, a user may use the drone to survey a parking lot to find a vacant spot.

Moreover, the companion vehicle may be a law enforcement vehicle (e.g., police car), fire truck, ambulance, or any other type of first responder vehicle. The first responders in the companion vehicle may want to gather more information about the emergency to which they are responding before arriving on the scene. Accordingly, the drone may fly ahead and be used to provide additional information about the emergency. For example, if there is a car accident, medical emergency, fire, or any type of crisis, the drone may gather information about the situation (e.g., capture images of the situation) and send the information to the companion vehicle before the companion vehicle arrives. This will help the first responders plan for and respond to the emergency more quickly and effectively.

Earlier this year, Ford and DJI announced that they are jointly working on drones that can work with cars.

Boeing invents an airplane that removes pollutants during flight

Patent Publication Number – US 20160288904


Air pollution is a significant problem for many major cities.  According to the 2014 WHO report, air pollution in 2012 caused the deaths of around 7 million people worldwide.

In general, current methods for reducing air pollution are directed toward minimizing sources of air pollution.  For example, air quality standards have been enacted setting upper limits on the concentration of certain types of pollutants.

However, the current methods do not address the removal of existing pollutants from the atmosphere.  For example, smog-producing particulates can remain suspended in the air for a relatively long period due to their very small size.

Boeing has now invented an airplane that includes an air filter bank, which removes pollutants from a volume of air passing through the air filter bank during forward motion of the airplane.

The airplane may be powered by fuel cells or by solar cells to avoid producing emissions.  Further, the air filter bank can be implemented on any type of manned or unmanned air vehicle, such as, a blended-wing aircraft, an airship or even balloons.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next: Facebook: Submit Your Ad Network for Independent Review