In 2011, Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan announced the creation of Stratolaunch Systems. With the goal of reducing the associated costs of space launches, the company set out to create the world’s largest air-launch-to-orbit system. After many years, these efforts bore fruit with the unveiling of the massive Scaled Composites Model 351 Stratolaunch air carrier in the Summer of 2017.
You may remember the cute Google self-driving car. In 2014, the tech giant announced their brand-new prototype of what the future of transportation might one day look like. If you wish you could drive one today, you are out of luck. The design was unfortunately scrapped in 2017. But don’t worry, what happened didn’t make a dent in the plan of introducing the world to self-driving cars, I mean autonomous cars, driverless cars, automated vehicles or … robot cars?
When Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released 50 years ago, flying cars were a flight of fancy. Now, these futuristic vehicles are entering the outer fringes of reality. According to a new study published in Nature, for some journeys flying cars could eventually be greener than even electric road cars, cutting emissions while also reducing traffic on increasingly busy roads.
Computers were once considered high-end technology, only accessible to scientists and trained professionals. But there was a seismic shift in the history of computing during the second half of the 1970s. It wasn’t just that machines became much smaller and more powerful — though, of course, they did. It was the shift in who would use computers and where: They became available to everyone to use in their own home.
I can still recall my surprise when a book by evolutionary biologist Peter Lawrence entitled “The making of a fly” came to be priced on Amazon at $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping). While my colleagues around the world must have become rather depressed that an academic book could achieve such a feat, the steep price was actually the result of algorithms feeding off each other and spiraling out of control. It turns out, it wasn’t just sales staff being creative: algorithms were calling the shots.
Having a sense of self lies at the heart of what it means to be human. Without it, we couldn’t navigate, interact, empathise or ultimately survive in an ever-changing, complex world of others. We need a sense of self when we are taking action, but also when we are anticipating the consequences of potential actions, by ourselves or others.
It sounds like a magic trick: you put a special device in contact with air, let sunlight fall on it, and it produces free fuel. Yet this is the basic idea of researcher Mihalis Tsampas (NWO Institute DIFFER - Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) in collaboration with Toyota Motor Europe (TME).
On-chip system that detects signals at sub-terahertz wavelengths could help steer driverless cars through fog and dust.
The idea of creating a physical object from a digital file is fascinating. It conjures memories of the replicators in Star Trek that can create everything from clothes to starship components to different foods. Today’s 3D printing is making impressive strides in that direction, to the great interest of many manufacturers. It is now possible to print the components for sophisticated electronic devices with fairly simple equipment, for instance – as my research team has just shown by producing what we believe to be the first 3D-printed microphone.
When the UK government cancelled its plans to electrify train lines across Wales, the Midlands and the north of England, and cut back on the Great Western rail network electrification, it brought a premature end to a rail investment program once touted as the biggest the country had seen since the Victorian era. But now reports suggest that the government and train manufacturers are hoping there may be an alternative way to turn British railways electric: hydrogen.