Solar Impulse in flight

Number News

The Weightless Special Interest Group signs up over 600 members while Russian State Railways invests in 350 electric locomotives in this month’s number news.


Solar Impulse founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg plan to fly their solar-powered aircraft across the USA in five stages this summer. Beginning from San Francisco, they intend to fly without fuel to Phoenix, either Dallas or Fort Worth, Washington and New York, collecting solar energy during the day and charging lithium batteries for night use. The Across America mission will run from May to July, with a programme of events at each stopover. Technical test flights have already begun.


40 years

The first call from a ‘portable’ mobile phone was made 40 years ago in 1973, when Motorola engineer Martin Cooper called a contact at a rival firm using a prototype device that subsequently evolved into the Motorola DynaTAC ‘brick’. Previous automotive telephones had been too power-hungry for use without the engine running.



Half (50.8 per cent) of all new cars sold in the UK in 2012 were diesel-engined, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Alternatively-fuelled vehicles grew in popularity to account for 1.4 per cent of the market, with the majority being petrol-electric hybrids. There were 2,237 new electric and plug-in vehicles.

SMMT reports that there are 35.8 million cars, vans, trucks, buses and coaches on UK roads, and 2.3 million were registered in 2012.



A group developing the use of TV white space spectrum for machine to machine communications has signed up over 600 members. In April the Weightless Special Interest Group ratified version 1.0 of the Weightless specification. The standard is optimised for machines, enabling ultra-low power consumption, good signal propagation and low costs.



Russian State Railways (RZD) signed a preliminary agreement at the Hannover Messe trade fair to buy 350 electric locomotives from Ural Locomotives, a joint venture of Sinara and Siemens.
They will be built in the Ural Locomotives plant in Yekaterinburg, and used to haul feeder services. Last year RZD said it would buy 675 electric freight locomotives from Ural.



The European Patent Office reports that of the ten most prolific patent applicants during 2012, four were from Europe, four from Asia and two from the US. Korean firm Samsung topped the list with 2,289 filings, followed by Germany’s Siemens with 2,193. A Chinese company, telecoms equipment provider ZTE, moved into the top ten for the first time, moving up to 10th position from 43rd in 2011, with 1,184 filings.

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