The Boeing Company is an American corporation that is heavily involved with the development of innovations in the fields of aerospace and defense technology. In fact, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office regularly receives applications and issues patents for various aircraft and communication technologies developed by the Chicago-based firm. Notwithstanding, the breadth of the types of innovations that they pursue may surprise you. Boeing is an innovative company that is not afraid to pursue innovation wherever it leads.
Recent patent applications assigned to Boeing show the company’s desire to create more adaptive in-flight management in response to unforeseen conditions. Another patent application describes a new system of solar energy collection that can generate energy from a very wide spectrum of light waves. One patent issued to Boeing also provides an interesting new development in the arena of laser light communication for data transmission. Given Earth Day is only two weeks away, let’s start by exploring the solar collection patent application.
Multi Sensor Solar Collection System
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130081669
Solar energy can be derived from a wide spectrum of light waves that radiate from the sun to Earth. These various forms of light radiation, including infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV), can be harnessed by solar panels to generate and story energy. However, these different forms of radiation require different solar panel materials so that the greatest amount of solar energy can be absorbed. These different solar panels can be connected into a circuit, but the electric current is easily degraded by solar cell junctions producing a low amp rate.
In this patent application, Boeing is hoping to protect a system of solar energy collection that uses multiple sensors installed on a planar mounting at the back of a solar tracker. Each sensor is constructed of material that can absorb different spectrums of light. A focusing element within the tracker diverts the light energy to the appropriate sensor based on various light conditions.
Claim 1 of this Boeing patent application describes:
“A method for controlling a multi sensor solar collection system, the method comprising: providing a plurality of different sets of solar cells; focusing, with at least one focusing element, a light beam on a first set of the solar cells according to a current light condition; and focusing, with the at least one focusing element, the light beam on a second set of the solar cells according to a change in the current light condition.”
Flight Trajectory Prediction with Application of Environmental Conditions
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130085672
There are ways to predict the trajectory of an aircraft based on several factors. Some trajectory prediction systems that are installed on-board the aircraft itself can even forecast the plane’s flight path by analyzing weather conditions. However, on-board systems don’t always have access to a database of current weather information, and the methods required to transmit that data from ground stations are cumbersome.
Boeing’s system of flight trajectory prediction, explained in this patent application, would glean real-time weather data for analysis in a few ways. Tools used to access environmental information include a weather database independent of the current ground station system and aircraft sensors providing a three- or four-dimensional frame of reference.
As Claim 1 explains, Boeing is seeking to protect:
“A flight trajectory prediction system comprising a processor programmed to perform the following operations: (a) obtaining flight information and aircraft state information from a flight object; (b) determining whether the obtained information is sufficient to predict a trajectory; and (c) calculating a predicted flight trajectory in response to a determination by operation (b) that the obtained information is sufficient to predict a flight trajectory, wherein the predicted flight trajectory is calculated using current environmental information.”
Access Door Assembly and Method of Making the Same
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130082143
Access panels that protect an aircraft’s fuselage are already constructed to reduce aerodynamic drag and provide the utmost protection while in flight. These access doors are typically joined together through a combination of riveting, chemical bonding and other fasteners. This is also used to produce a smooth, aesthetically pleasing underside to the aircraft.
Boeing has devised a method of creating access doors with new fastener configurations that are designed to cut down on production costs and reduce the overall weight of the assembly. As diagrams attached to the application describe, the new panels would have scalloped edges instead of the straight-edge design indicated as prior art.
As Claim 1 of this Boeing patent application states, the company wants to protect:
“An access door assembly for joining to a structure, the access door assembly comprising: an access door comprising at least one access door nonlinear edge; a support structure comprising at least one support structure nonlinear edge; and, a doubler element attached to an interior side of the support structure, wherein the support structure nonlinear edge is designed to interlace with the access door nonlinear edge to form an access door assembly for joining to a structure, the access door assembly having an interlaced nonlinear edge interface; and further wherein a diameter of the doubler element of the access door assembly is reduced as compared to a diameter of a doubler element of a known access door assembly having a linear or circular edge, such that the reduced diameter results in an overall reduced weight of the access door assembly and the structure to which the access door assembly is joined.”
Systems and Methods for Processing Flight Information
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130085669
Many factors go into the development of a flight plan for any individual flight, including wind speed, fuel consumption and distance. Often, unforeseen weather or other changes in the flight experience may require a new flight plan if the aircraft is diverted from the waypoint path that makes up the flight plan. Although aircraft operators can upload new flight plans, current methods of processing new plans and transmitting them to the aircraft are cumbersome.
This new Boeing innovation is much more efficient at decoding and translating a flight plan message sent from a ground station to the aircraft. The processing system allows for transmissions across various communication channels, including aircraft-to-aircraft, ground-to-aircraft and aircraft-to-ground. The flight message is encoded in such a way that the end user’s processor, whether that is the aircraft’s or the ground station’s unit, can easily decode the message and upload the flight plan changes.
According to Claim 1 of this patent application, Boeing has devised:
“A method for processing flight information comprising: (a) obtaining a flight plan/route message comprising payload data representing a flight plan/route of an aircraft; (b) processing the payload data representing said flight plan/route to derive a list of waypoints and associated flight information in a form suitable for use by a user; (c) processing the list of waypoints and associated flight information to derive payload data representing an updated flight plan/route of said aircraft; (d) constructing an updated flight plan/route message that includes said payload data representing said updated flight plan/route; and (e) making available said updated flight plan/route message with or without environmental information.”
Surface and Sub-Surface Wave Front Management
U.S. Patent No. 8412048
Boeing technologies use lasers in a number of ways, including as a means of transmitting information. Lasers can travel through many substances, even liquid and some solid material. However, when the laser comes into contact with these materials, wave refraction can occur, altering the transmission path of individual photons within a wave and degrading the laser signal.
Whereas some laser applications can prevent against signal loss by increasing the amount of laser light either collected or transmitted. However, as schematic images attached to the patent document show, the long distance laser communication sought by Boeing requires more than just extra laser light. The laser management invention is an apparatus that exists at the signal receiver and improves the signal quality by producing more photons and managing the laser’s wave front.
Claim 1 of this Boeing patent protects:
“A method for managing a transmission of photons, the method comprising: identifying a number of parameters for transmitting the photons as a beam in a liquid using a number of characteristics of the liquid to form a number of selected parameters; and transmitting the photons in the liquid as the beam to a target using the number of selected parameters to form the transmission of the photons, transmitting further including changing the number of characteristics of the liquid along a path for the beam using the number of selected parameters, and transmitting the beam along the path.”