this week

Ehang’s passenger-carrying drone conducts first test flights

Chinese drone maker Ehang has released footage of its first piloted test flights. The quadcopter, dubbed the Ehang 184, has been put through a battery of tests over the last several months, with the company conducting over 1,000 test flights with human passengers.

Source: The Verge

Virgin Money the latest to ban buying Bitcoin on credit cards

Virgin Money has this week joined Lloyds Banking Group in banning customers from buying Bitcoin and other digital currencies with their credit cards. Like Lloyds, Virgin Money is concerned about customers running up large debts following a sharp fall in the value of digital currencies.

Source: BBC

Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully

Elon Musk has successfully launched his Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of SpaceX's Falcon 9 vehicles strapped together. However, due to its complexity Musk previously said the chance of a successful first outing might be only 50-50.

Source: BBC

Elon Musk wants to see a new space race

Elon Musk also used the launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket to declare that he would like to see a new space race. "I think it's going to open up a sense of possibility," Musk said of his freshly demonstrated 23-story launcher. "We want a new space race. Space races are exciting."

Self-driving truck completes 2,400 mile cross-country trip

Embark’s self-driving truck just drove from Los Angeles to Jacksonville with minimal help from its on-board human driver. The autonomous vehicle completed a 2,400 mile trip from Los Angeles, California to Jacksonville, Florida in five days, travelling for “hours at a time with no disengagements.”

Source: Tech Crunch

Is former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick really Gordon Gekko?

In the trial where Google’s driverless car spinoff Waymo accuses the ride-hailing company Uber of stealing trade secrets, former Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, has been likened to the star of the 1987 movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, for whom “winning was more important than obeying the law”.

Source: The Guardian

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC