this week

EU plans supporting technologies to get driverless cars on the road

Europe should pioneer connected and automated driving, according to Günther Oettinger, EU commissioner for digital economy and society, as he unveiled plans for an EU-wide rollout of supporting technologies to representatives of the car and telecoms industries at the World Mobile Congress this week.

Doctors implant "world's first" 3D-printed vertebrae

Ralph Mobbs, a neurosurgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, successfully replaced two vertebrae with custom made 3D prostheses. The patient required 3D printed vertebrae because a virulent form of cancer threatened to cinch off his spinal cord as it grew, and would have left him a quadriplegic.

Source: Engadget

Google's machine works out the location of almost any photo

Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist at Google, has trained a deep-learning machine to work out the location of almost any photo using only the pixels it contains. The machine can also determine the location of indoor images and pictures of specific things such as pets, food, and so on that have no location cues.

Metal replicates the strength and dexterity of human muscles

HRL Laboratories has announced it has replicated the reactions of human muscle in metal. The new material can change from stiff to soft by a factor of 100 in milliseconds, independent of how much mechanical force is applied. The company said the metal will be used to create more human-like robots.

Source: Inverse

Journeying to Mars in only three days with photonic propulsion

If rocket-propelled spacecraft will only take us so far then what will the next generation of propulsion technology look like? NASA has funded a study that is exploring the possibility of using photonic-laser thrust to propel spacecraft to relativistic speeds, allowing them to travel farther than ever before.

Bill Gates predicts an energy miracle in the next 15 years

Bill Gates believes an energy miracle is coming, and it's going to change the world. In his 2016 annual letter, Gates speculates on the coming clean-energy revolution, and says If he could help the world's poorest people in any way "it would be to find a cheap, clean source of energy to power our world".

Source: Gates Notes

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