Hong Kong airline aims to transport passengers for $25, using drones

Seaplane Hong Kong is looking to the future as it one day aims to transport passengers around the country via drones for as little as $25. The goal is to make hiring a transport drone as easy and painless to do as ordering a car from a ride-sharing service today.

The company hopes to have the drones up and fly before the end of the year, depending on regulatory approval. It isn’t clear what drone the company will be using now, but it seems likely that it will be using EHang’s 216 passenger drone.

The drone transport will allow flights from Hong Kong Central to Kwun Tong and TKO (Tseung Kwan O), cutting down the travel time from 18 minutes to just 6 minutes, a time difference that doesn’t seem a lot, but for future flights that are farther, the time difference will increase.

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Europe Plans 20,000 GPU Supercomputer to Create ‘Digital Twin’ of Earth

By Ryan Whitwam 

Anyone who’s tried to buy a graphics card lately knows how tough it can be to find something in stock, let alone for a reasonable price. The European Union, however, thinks this is a grand time to slap 20,000 GPUs into a supercomputer with the aim of studying climate change with a simulated twin of our planet. The plan to create a digital twin of Earth might end up delayed due to the relative lack of available GPUs, but this isn’t going to be an overnight project. 

The EU calls the upcoming computer Destination Earth, or DestinE for short. This massive raft of GPUs will allegedly be able to create a highly accurate copy of Earth down to kilometer-scale that simulates how climate change will affect us. Users will be able to vary conditions and project the effects on food security, ocean levels, global temperature, and so on. 

This level of detail will allow researchers to predict the future, at least in some small way. Peter Bauer is deputy director of the European Centre for Medium-​Range Weather Forecasts and lead author on the new study detailing DestinE. Bauer uses The Netherlands as an example of what a digital Earth clone could do. “If you are planning a two-​metre high dike in The Netherlands, for example, I can run through the data in my digital twin and check whether the dike will in all likelihood still protect against expected extreme events in 2050,” says Bauer. DestinE could guide decisions large and small as Europe seeks to reduce emissions and plan for the impacts of climate change. 

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Elon Musk’s ‘Mars City’ Expects to Use This NASA Box That Turns Mars’ Air into Oxygen

By Giuliano J. de Leon 

NASA’s MOXIE could make breathing in Mars a reality. The space agency’s new invention can turn Martian air into oxygen, making it a game-changer for future Mars explorations. 

According to Popular Mechanics’ latest report, it is impossible to breathe on Mars since its atmosphere is around 1% the density of Earth’s. Will this be beneficial for Elon Musk’s planned ‘Mars City?’

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Boston Dynamics introduces new warehouse robot ‘Stretch’

US robotics company Boston Dynamics on Monday unveiled a new robot called Stretch, designed to perform one very specific warehouse job: moving boxes.

Stretch is the first robot for one task that the company has built, based on requests received from companies around the world, said Michael Perry, vice president of business development for Boston Dynamics.

“We heard pretty much universally across warehousing that truck unloading is one of the most physically difficult and unpleasant jobs … And that’s where Stretch comes into play,” Perry told Reuters.

Stretch has a small mobile base that allows it to move around tight spaces in existing warehouses without having to reconfigure them for automation. It is equipped with an arm and a smart-gripper with advanced sensing and computer vision cameras that can identify and handle a large variety of boxed and shrink wrapped cases.

“We’re looking at picking up boxes around 50 pounds and our maximum rate of picking up and moving boxes can reach up to 800 cases per hour. So, it’s a fast-moving, highly versatile robot,” Perry said.

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A new experimental treatment could someday give people a way to grow missing teeth, if early research on lab animals holds up.

Scientists at Japan’s Kyoto University and the University of Fukui developed a monoclonal antibody treatment that seems to trigger the body to grow new teeth, according to research published last month in the journal Science Advances. If upcoming experiments continue to work, it could eventually give us a way to regrow teeth lost in adulthood or those that were missing since childhood due to congenital conditions.

It’s a tricky challenge. The genes that influence tooth growth have far-reaching impacts on development throughout the body, and some of the first iterations of the treatment actually caused more birth defects in the lab mice before the research team got all the kinks ironed out, according to a press release on the study.

But eventually the team found that blocking a gene called USAG-1 led to increased activity of Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP), a molecule that determines how many teeth will grow in the first place, and allowed adult mice to regrow any that they were missing.


Honeywell says quantum computers will outpace standard verification in ’18 to 24 months’

By Michael Vizard

Honeywell expects that as advances in quantum computing continue to accelerate over the next 18 to 24 months, the ability to replicate the results of a quantum computing application workload using a conventional computing platform simulation will come to an end.

The company’s System Model H1 has now quadrupled its performance capabilities to become the first commercial quantum computer to attain a 512 quantum volume. Ascertaining quantum volume requires running a complex set of statistical tests that are influenced by the number of qubits, error rates, connectivity of qubits, and cross-talk between qubits. That approach provides a more accurate assessment of a quantum computer’s processing capability that goes beyond simply counting the number of qubits that can be employed.

Honeywell today provides access to a set of simulation tools that make it possible to validate the results delivered on its quantum computers on a conventional machine. Those simulations give organizations more confidence in quantum computing platforms by allowing them to compare results. However, quantum computers are now approaching a level where at some point between 2022 and 2023 that will no longer be possible, Honeywell Quantum Solutions president Tony Uttley said.

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Virgin Galactic debuts its first third-generation spaceship, ‘VSS Imagine’

CEO Michael Colglazier talks about building a consumer space brand

By Darrell Etherington

Commercial human spaceflight company Virgin Galactic has unveiled the first-ever Spaceship III, the third major iteration of its spacecraft design. The first in this new series is called “VSS (Virgin SpaceShip) Imagine,” and will start ground testing now with the aim of beginning its first glide flights starting this summer. VSS Imagine has a snazzy new external look, including a mirrored wraparound finish that’s designed to reflect the spacecraft’s changing environment as it makes its way from the ground to space — but more importantly, it moves Virgin Galactic closer to achieving the engineering goals it requires to produce a fleet of spacecraft at scale.

I spoke to Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier about VSS Imagine, and what it represents for the company.

“We can build these at a faster pace,” he explained. “These are still relatively slow, versus what we want in our next class of spaceships. But what we do expect to have here is, we’ve taken all the learnings from [VSS] Unity, and built-in what we need to do so that we can turn these ships at a faster pace, because obviously, the number of flights we can do is the product of how many ships you have, and how quickly you can turn them.”

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SpaceX reveals new Crew Dragon with an incredible window dome

By Chris Davies 

SpaceX has revealed a new image of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, showing an incredible glass dome window on top for incredible views of space. The new image shows the familiar bullet-shaped craft but now with a pop-up nose cone, which hinges back to reveal what might end up being the best seat in orbit.

It’s based on the existing Crew Dragon design, but does away with the docking adapter that would ordinarily be intended to mate with the International Space Station. That’s there so that astronaut missions can take place, shuttling people up and down from the ISS, as well as cargo and other items.

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Seoul’s Smart Traffic Lights Will Charge EVs and Drones

Seoul’s S-Poles

By  Chris Young

The multipurpose S-Poles can also function as Wi-Fi access points.

A smaller, more versatile version of the utility pole might soon become ubiquitous throughout future smart cities worldwide. 

Amongst the implementors of such a technology is Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), which announced last year that it would install new ‘smart poles’, or S-Poles, that act as streetlights, traffic lights, environmental sensors, smartphone chargers, Wi-Fi access points, CCTV, and more.

As a Cities Today report explains, the city of Seoul, South Korea, has already installed twenty-six smart poles in six areas of the city. Each pole’s function is customized to the requirements of its specific location.

SMG is piloting a version of the S-Pole system, which is also able to charge drones and electric vehicles as well as count the footfall of nearby pedestrians.

The project, which is in the planning stage, would use drones to monitor potential disasters and provide data for emergency rescue teams.

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New milestone reached as 100 cryptocurrencies reach a $1B market cap

In the past two months, the number of crypto projects with a $1 billion market cap doubled as increased adoption pushes token valuations higher.

In the last two months, the number of cryptocurrencies with a $1 billion market caphas doubled since the last time Cointelegraph reported on the milestone. As things currently stand, there are 100 projects that have reached a $1 billion market capitalization.

Unicorns are typically privately held startup companies valued at more than $1 billion, but traditional finance is increasingly applying the term to high-value cryptocurrencies that institutions are only now gaining exposure to. 

The entrance of institutional investors into the cryptocurrency sector over the course of 2021 has been one of the driving forces of growth for the ecosystem as a whole as multi-billion dollar companies like Tesla, Square and MicroStrategy have converted a portion of their cash reserves into Bitcoin (BTC) and other top altcoins. 

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Autonomous Polaris GEM neighborhood electric vehicle launching in 2023

Polaris and Optimus Ride are jointly-developing a production autonomous shuttle. 

Will work as a campus shuttle

By Gary Gastelu 

Polaris is getting into the autonomous car business … slowly.

The company is jointly developing a self-drivingshuttle with Optimus Ride, which currently operates pilot loops in Brooklyn, Washington D.C. and several other locations using prototypes built on the Polaris Gem e6 platform.

The vehicles operate on fixed, geofenced loops among pedestrians and traffic at speeds up to 25 mph using an array of cameras and lidar to monitor their surroundings.

They currently have safety backup drivers onboard in case anything goes wrong, but Optimus Ride CEO Sean Harrington said they expect them to be fully autonomous and overseen by a central monitoring system with remote control capability by the time the production vehicles enter service in 2023.

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Apple Watch able to monitor frailty in cardiovascular disease patients

by Bob Yirka

A team of researchers at Stanford University has found that the Apple Watch in association with an iPhone can be used to monitor frailty in cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients. The project group, which was funded by Apple, has posted a paper describing experiments they conducted with the Apple Watc on the open-access site PLOS ONE.

People with CVD often lose physical abilitiesbecause the heart is unable to keep up with increased demands. Thus, many such patients develop frailty, which is defined in this case as an inability to walk distances greater than 300 meters in six minutes. The test has been named the six-minute walk test (6MWT) and is used as a standard means of assessing the health of CVD patients—it is generally conducted in a clinical setting. In this new effort, the team at Stanford has assessed the capabilities of an Apple Watch app they developed called VascTrac that has been designed to conduct the 6MWT on CVD patients.

The team tested the app and device by enlisting the assistance of 111 CVD patients. Each was given an iPhone and Apple Watch running the VascTrac. The volunteers were then asked to test the app by attempting to walk for six minutes—both at home and in a clinical setting.

The researchers found the system could assess the frailty of the volunteers in the clinical setting with a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 85%. At home, the numbers were 83% and 60%. The researchers say that their 6MWT system was able to provide clinically useful information for patients regarding their health in a home environment. They also note that their system could be particularly useful during emergency situations, such as a pandemic, when many CVD patients are afraid to visit a doctor’s office. They also note that their experiments were conducted over many months in 2018 and 2019. Apple has since added the VascTrac abilities to the WatchOS, which means users of new Apple Watches can take advantage of the capabilities without having to download an app.

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