Diesel-Powered Unmanned Aircraft Sets New Endurance World Record

Vanilla Aircraft is taking a victory lap. The Falls Church, Virginia-based firm has announced that it successfully set an unmanned aerial vehicle record late last year, when its diesel-fed VA001 completed a 56-hour flight. The feat has now been certified by the National Aeronautic Association, officially on the books as the longest unrefueled flight for a combustion-powered, unmanned craft in the 100 to 1,102-pound weight class. The craziest part? VA001 landed carrying a half-tank of fuel.

Blame the weather. VA001 took off November 30th from New Mexico State University’s Unmanned Air Systems Flight Test Center, with an intended flight time of 120 hours. Employing a fixed, 36-foot wingspan, the craft carried a 20-pound payload, cruising at an average of 65.6 mph, at altitudes between 6,500 to 7,500 feet. Then an impending ice storm forced early landing. But Vanilla claims that, when the propeller-driven craft touched down, on December 2nd, it still had enough JP8 diesel in the tank for another 90 hours of flight time.

Friends, this is why we pay taxes. VA001, which made its maiden flight in 2015, was backed by the Department of Defense's Rapid Reaction Technology Office via U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Naval Air System Command. NASA also provided multispectral imaging to test agricultural sensing capabilities. Consider it money well-spent: VA001 should be a boon in military application, and Vanilla is hoping to offer a commercial version for agriculture and survey operations. The company’s CEO, retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Heely, calls the project “an unprecedented coordination among civil, defence, academic, and private industry to bring a heretofore only imagined capability to reality.”

One record in the books, expect another attempt at the full 120-hour flight sometime soon. In the meantime, Vanilla is continuing to develop VA001 toward its ultimate goal: 10 days, unrefueled, carrying a 30-pound payload at 15,000 feet.

Lyft’s Getting Rid Of Its Signature Pink Mustache

Since it first launched in 2012, Lyft has worked to position itself as the more easygoing ride-sharing service. A little cheeky, fun-loving, a bit of added flair. Much of that image has come from the brand’s signature pink mustache, originally worn as a large, fuzzy bumper appendage and, more recently, as a light-up dash accessory, dubbed the “Glowstache.” Now, though, the company is ditching the hipster facial hair trope entirely.

Wired reports that a new two-way beacon will replace the Glowstache. Lyft says the device, called Amp, is being introduced to ease the pickup process, helping drivers and riders find each other. As before, the signal is mounted on the dash. But the unit, which looks like a rear-view mirror and houses 20 diffused LED peg bulbs, now displays a specific color; once they’ve ordered a car, customers will be given the option to illuminate their cell phone screen in the same hue.

Using that, drivers and riders can flag each other down, matching blue with blue or green with green, helping pick a specific Lyft out of a crowd, or stand out in a congested area. Besides projecting an outward color for functionality, drivers will be able to customize the interior side of their Amp with a special message to passengers.

It’s worth noting that Uber has been trialing a similar setup, called Spot, but hasn’t committed to mass implementation.

The color-coding idea seems clever, since spotting license plate numbers is a pain at night, and more than one Lyft car outside a crowded bar or club can create confusion. The company claims that Amp should make drivers recognizable from 50 to 100 feet away. So keep an eye out for the new signal moving forward, and pour one out for the Glowstache. Lyft is rolling on.

Part Commuter Bicycle, Part Lamborghini Homage

Forget a better mousetrap. Just make us a cooler one.

That’s exactly what Estonian bikemaker Viks has done with its latest urban commuter. Aptly dubbed “Gran Turismo,” the bicycle’s design and styling is entirely based on modern Lamborghinis. So the open-style frame is all triangles and sharp edges and trapezoids, handmade and hewn entirely from aluminum, meaning it’s 40 percent lighter than the firm’s standard road bike.

The trick tubing is complimented by a single-speed Gates belt drive, mechanical disk brakes, and slick five-spoke carbon fiber wheels. There’s more than a little Huracán LP610-4 in the lines; the balance of the yellow-and-black scheme apes an old Gallardo Superleggera LP570-4.

About that: The bike in these photos is painted Giallo Midas, a legit Lamborghini factory color. But if that’s not your flavor of Sant'Agata Skittle, the folks at Viks will spray the GT another shade from the automaker’s catalog. We’ll take ours in Arancio Atlas, that flake-and-pearl orange created to compliment the Murciélago, the car that signaled a transition to its current design language.

Like new Lamborghinis, the Viks GT design is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. If you’re in the latter camp, check out the company’s website for details here.

What Would GTA 5 Be Like With PlayStation VR?

Brace yourself: PlayStation VR is nigh.

After more than a five years in gestation, Sony will launch its first proper consumer virtual reality device (sorry, Glasstron owners) on October 13. On paper, the spec looks impressive: 1080p display, 120 FPS, 100-degree FOV, plug-in 3D audio. Better yet, Gran Turismo Sport should be compatible when it’s released next year. This should all excite you.

Still, nobody’s sure if Rockstar Games plans on playing ball. Which means nobody’s sure if PSVR will have Grand Theft Auto. So this new short film from Corridor Digital, which imagines the world of GTA 5 in virtual reality, may be as close as we’ll ever get. (After watching, maybe that’s a good thing.)

Over seven wonderful minutes, Corridor delivers the following: Steve Ogg, a.k.a. GTA’s Trevor, appearing as himself; jabs at Google, Tesla, Apple, and Verizon; campy self-awareness (when an Iron Man suit-wearing bro appears: “…modders!”); gratuitous violence, foul language, glorious explosions, and general anarchy. Also the satisfaction of watching a Plymouth Prowler owner catch a beatdown. Because, honestly, haven’t you just wanted to do that at every stoplight since 1997?

Fair warning: NSFW. Not even a little. The whole thing, start to finish. Just... don't.


Food and Art on Wheels: Meet the New Guggenheim Hot Dog Cart

The Roach Coach Renaissance is upon us. Last year alone, food trucks brought in an estimated $1.2 billion, a staggering figure considering there’s less than 4,500 of them rolling around. And those numbers are conservative. The boom means a booming customization market, too, creative designs and wild paint schemes and unique add-ons. Bottom line: Food trucks have gotten exceptionally interesting to look at. Meanwhile, your average street vendor has been working with the same basic kit since Grover Cleveland was in office. No more.

The ultimate collapsable food cart.

Arquimaña, an architecture and design firm based in Spain, has reinvented the humble hot dog cart. Commissioned by Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, the project is called Salchibotxo. (That’s a Basque portmanteau, salchicha for ‘sausage’ and botxo, Bilbao’s nickname.) The concept? Highbrow form-meets-function, something to sling gourmet food and craft beers while looking at home outside one of the finest museums on the Continent, a building designed by none other than Frank Gehry.

So Salchibotxo flips the script, ditching the box-top look for a chic A-frame. The chassis is solid steel, the body cabinet-style oak. There’s a full stereo system, a chiller for longnecks from Bilbao brewery La Salve, and a removable griddle for cooking up goods from Luis Thate, the local butcher.

Gourmet dogs.

The bartop, the signage, the laser-cut aluminum shutters that shade vendors and customers—it all folds up into one compact, rolling installation. Which isn’t to say the cart is compromised for storage: Salchibotxo can hold 500 sausages and, crucially, up to 150 bottles of beers. There’s even a secret coin slot for tips. Righteous. This is one of the neatest things you’ll see on wheels this week.

New York Guggenheim, circa 2004.

Of course, New Yorkers will get an extra kick out of Salchibotxo: Six years ago, neighborhood advocates threw a shitfit over “visually disruptive” yellow-umbrella hot dog carts outside our own grand Guggenheim. The museum petitioned the City Landmarks Preservation Commission for permission to build a mobile eatery at the Fifth Avenue entrance on 89th Street, with award-winning architect Andre Kikoski set to design. The proposal was unanimously denied.

The Women and Wheels Project

The culture is unifying. Cars, motorcycles, trucks. Get a couple of enthusiasts in a room, and get them talking wheels, and any walls that separate us come down. Fast. But, for a sect that’s draw is inherently inclusive, we’ve got a major blind spot when it comes to the women in our ranks.

Sarah Vaun knows a thing or two about that. She’s a photographer, and has been riding and wrenching for over a decade. Still, she found herself in hostile territory as a female enthusiast in online discussion groups. So she started a new Facebook group, which evolved The Bleeders, one of Chicago’s preeminent motorcycle clubs for female riders.

Vaun, now based in Milwaukee, describes her latest photo series as “showcasing women who ride, wrench, and race.” That means dirt bikes, café racers, makeup, hot rods, choppers, trucks, demolition derby—hell, even roller derby. The approach is neat, the compositions are striking, and the subject matter is on-point.

The aptly titled Women and Wheels Project is showing at the Beauty & Brawn art gallery in Chicago until September 2. If you’re in the Windy City, swing by and check it out. If you’re not, check out some of the selects at Sarah Vaun’s website here, and follow the project on Instagram.


Beauty & Brawn is located at 3501 W. Fullerton, Logan Square, in Chicago, Illinois. For more info about this and other exhibitions call 773.772.9808.

GM and NASA Built a Robotic Glove and it’s the Coolest

When civilization finally crumbles, and we’re forced to take inventory of our cultural flotsam, carefully selecting a precious few artifacts to preserve for posterity, I pray that somebody submits a copy of The Wizard. It is the pinnacle of hammy Eighties filmmaking. It stars Christian Slater and Fred Savage, because of course it does. And, by way of a product placement masterstroke, it co-stars Nintendo’s then-new PowerGlove. In a seminal moment, this introduced an entire generation to consumer lust. Soon after, it introduced an entire generation to buyer’s remorse, since the PowerGlove turned out to be a horrifically useless piece shit.

Years later, a team of automotive engineers and rocket scientists have teamed up to right that historic wrong. And, yes, that's as magical as it sounds.

Meet the RoboGlove, the motor-assisted hand-gadget you always wanted. It’s the fruit of a nine-year-long partnership between General Motors and NASA, wherein the two companies worked on a helper android for use aboard the International Space Station. In designing that robot’s hands, GM developed pressure-actuated synthetic tendon technology to match human levels of dexterity. Applied in a soft exoskeleton (read: lightweight slip-on), the force-multiplication was a boon for astronauts turning wrenches in space.Now, Bioservo Technologies

Now, Bioservo Technologies has licensed the product. The Swedish firm sees a use in the physical rehabilitation field, and plans on bringing the glove to market. GM, meanwhile, says it wants to trial the RoboGlove in its U.S. factories. No word yet on which plants might be included, or when it’ll happen. But the technology is already proven.Per NASA: "An astronaut working in a pressurized suit outside the space station or an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15- to 20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation but with the robotic glove they might need to apply only five to 10 pounds of force.”

Run-on sentence? Who cares. RoboGlove is magic. All hail RoboGlove.

These Sixties Sports Car Inspired Sunglasses Are Killer

At its best, the Internet is curating. Spoon feeding your interests, carefully tailored yet broadly appealing. Grantland curates sports and society. The Drive curates machinery, and the culture it creates. When it comes to men’s gear, uncrate is a formative master. Case and point: Model X1 reissue.

That’s the result of collaboration with eyewear titan Warby Parker. The design is inspired by Sixties sports cars, lightweight and with heavy-duty nylon lenses. Matte black or tortoise shell, the limited-run Model X1’s garage life aesthetic is spot-on. And, given a pair of custom Ray Bans is more expensive than an iPhone, the $145 price point here won’t make you grimace. (Pro tip: Always grimace, especially in sunglasses. You’ll look cooler). Check ’em out here.

How to Get Dumped and Crash a BMW 5 Series

The Car: 1997 BMW 540i

The Crash: Eighteen-year-olds generally cannot afford a BMW M5. Some, however, might see their way into a haggard, high-mileage BMW 5 Series. The car had enough dashboard warning lights to illuminate a black hole. Also, a V-8 and manual gearbox. I emptied my savings account and limped it home. The peeling window tint and aftermarket taillights made me look like a Triad cocaine dealer.

That was autumn. Just before winter, I had a drag-out argument with my then-girlfriend, mostly because she didn’t realize we were dating. On the drive home, I listened to Tom Waits and thought about buying a piano. Unrequited love is a bitch. So are dump trucks.

To be clear, I didn’t hit the thing; I just failed to realize it’d dropped gate and spilled loose gravel across a 90-degree right-hand turn. The car yawed over surface change, jackknifed and climbed a curb. The damage wasn’t so bad, actually: a collapsed rocker, tweaked front control arm and two bent wheels. Knife twist? Textbooks and boxes of spare parts convinced BMW’s seat sensors that three passengers were present. Eighteen-year-olds cannot afford to replace a half-dozen erroneously deployed airbags, either.

The Damage: A write-off—for both car and ego.

The Moral: Put your luggage in the trunk; it’s O.K. to cry listening to Blue Valentine.