Space, crime, and hybrid vehicles

Download document:

Investing in Britain’s Future - .PDF file.

News editor

Tucked away in last month’s Comprehensive Spending Review was an announcement that Reaction Engines were to be allocated funding to further develop its SABRE rocket engine.

Treasury publication Investing in Britain’s Future states that government will continue to invest in the development of ‘high priority projects’ such as SABRE (Synergistic Air Breathing Rocket Engine), a key component of the Skylon single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane.

The engine extracts the oxygen it needs for low atmosphere flight from air, making it possible for a new generation of spaceplanes that would be lighter, reusable and able to take off and launch from conventional airport runways. Further details from The Engineer can be found here.

The new funding, which amounts to around £60m, is being formally announced through the UK Space Agency, which is one of the sponsors of this week’s UK Space Conference 2013.

Taking place in Glasgow on Tuesday and Wednesday, the conference – which includes a day for the public – will focus on realising the UK’s ambitions in space.

Organiser Intellect Event Management says this will be achieved by looking at how Britain’s space industry is making a global impact with science and research, contributing to economic growth by developing new commercial applications and businesses, and developing interactions between these activities.

Meanwhile, SMMT’s June 2013 new car registration figures showed that Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) represent a growing but niche sector of the automotive market. The year-to-date figure for AFVs in June stood at 15,427, an 5.5 per cent rise on 2012 but only 1.3 per cent of total market share.

The organiser of this week’s Hybrid Powertrain 2013: Component & System Level Technological Development Summit notes that emissions regulations and the slow uptake of electric vehicles led to hybrid arrangements being identified as a key OEM interest in the short to medium term.

Taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, the event will take delegates through ‘engineering focused briefings on achieving the optimal balance between cost, performance and commercial viability’ of hybrid arrangements.

The organiser adds that day one will open with detailed analysis of the different hybrid arrangements, including the pressure points affecting their development. Day two begins by assessing the impact of customer usage data on hybrid selection and development.

Specific sessions will look at the issue of power versus space available in the vehicle, which the organiser claims will ‘identify the effect of differing voltage architectures (48v – 300v+) in terms of the subsequent trade-offs of size and weight of the battery pack and additional power electrics strengthening.’

Alternative Hybridisation will look at the potential energy storage sources other than electric batteries forming the foundation of future hybrid systems. This session will consider the ‘benefits of implementing a simple, well understood energy storage system such as hydraulic or air hybrid, cutting out the cost of technical development and adaptation.’ This session will look also at the potential long-term possibilities of fuel cells replacing batteries as the industry standard hybrid option.

In 2009 The Engineer reported on a project that aimed to develop intelligent software that would recognise anti-social behaviour from real-time CCTV feeds.

Former Engineer journalist Ellie Zolfagharifard reported that the software – being developed at Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with Huddersfield University – would stream live footage to security operators who will then be able to communicate directly with the offender via on-board screens.

Crime, and the role of science in tackling modern threats, is top of the agenda at this week’s International Crime Science Conference taking place tomorrow at the British Library in London.

Bringing together the security practitioners, policy-makers, technologists, and academics who are developing the techniques and technologies for preventing crime and increasing security, the conference will look at how responses to security and crime problems are adapting with the invention and adoption of new technologies and methodologies.

Supported by the UK Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology, topics will include threat detection, transport security, domestic terrorism, urban surveillance, and security and crime in future cities.

2009 was a good year for security-related stories in The Engineer, with this feasibility study offering a fascinating – and highly contentious – glimpse into the future of law enforcement.