Japan assembles superteam of aircraft component manufacturers to build supersonic passenger plane

Japan Supersonic Research wants to be in the air by 2030

By Laura Dobberstein

Japan has a assembled a supergroup of aviation, industrial, and space organisations to build a supersonic passenger jet.

The new organisation, Japan Supersonic Research (JSR), quietly signed itself into existence on March 31st. Yesterday, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that it is a member, alongside Japan Aircraft Development Association, Japan Aerospace Exploration Association, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries), IHI Corporation, and Subaru.

Japan’s aerospace industry currently focuses on manufacturing components for aircrafts and engines, including wings and fuselages. Mitsubishi recently hangared plans to build its own mid-size passenger jet. Another more successful exception is Subaru’s joint manufacturing deal for the Bell 412 helicopter, sold locally in modified versions called the Subaru Bell 412EPX and XUH-2.

JSR’s vision is to engage in international joint development of supersonic aircraft by 2030.

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Meet SpaceBok: The First Four-Legged Robot Set for Mars

Spacebok during early tests ESA

By  Chris Young

Though wheeled robots are more stable, legged robots can reach areas that a rolling rover couldn’t.

Every roving robot that has landed on Mars up to the latest Perseverance rover, which touched down in February, has one thing in common — every single one of them has wheels.

SpaceBok, built by a team of scientists from ETH Zurich in Switzerland and the Max Planck Institute in Germany, is a small quadrupedal robot named after the springbok antelope, a report from Wired explains.

The robot was originally designed to leap and bound on the surface of the Moon in the same way astronauts did during the Apollo landings — Springboks are also known to “pronk” or leap into the air, though the exact reason is not known.

The team tested different gaits, as well as small hoof-like feet and flat, round feet with cleats for more stability. 

As much of the research on Mars revolves around craters — Mars Perseverance landed on the Jezero crater due to the belief that it may have once been a habitable river valley — the team behind SpaceBok trained their robot on a large tilted sandbox full of rocks to simulate Mars.

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The first mobile phone call was 75 years ago – what it takes for technologies to go from breakthrough to big time

An engineer demonstrates a car phone five months before the historic first call on a competing company’s commercial mobile telephone service in 1946.

By Daniel Bliss, Arizona State University

I have a cellphone built into my watch. People now take this type of technology for granted, but not so long ago it was firmly in the realm of science fiction. The transition from fantasy to reality was far from the flip of a switch. The amount of time, money, talent and effort required to put a telephone on my wrist spanned far beyond any one product development cycle.

The people who crossed a wristwatch with a cellphone worked hard for several years to make it happen, but technology development really occurs on a timescale of decades. While the last steps of technological development capture headlines, it takes thousands of scientists and engineers working for decades on myriad technologies to get to the point where blockbuster products begin to capture the public’s imagination. 

The first mobile phone service, for 80-pound telephones installed in cars, was demonstrated on June 17, 1946, 75 years ago. The service was only available in major cities and highway corridors and was aimed at companies rather than individuals. The equipment filled much of a car’s trunk, and subscribers made calls by picking up the handset and speaking to a switchboard operator. By 1948, the service had 5,000 customers.

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80% of tech could be built outside IT by 2024, thanks to low-code tools

By Sage Lazzaro

It looks like no-code and low-code toolsare here to stay. Today, Gartner released new predictions about technology products and services, specifically who will build them and the impact of AI and the pandemic. The research firm found that by 2024, 80% of tech products and services will be built by people who are not technology professionals. Gartner also expects to see more high-profile announcements of technology launches from nontech companies over the next year.

“The barrier to become a technology producer is falling due to low-code and no-code development tools,” Gartner VP Rajesh Kandaswamy told VentureBeat. When asked what kinds of tech products and services these findings apply to, he said “all of them.” Overall, Kandaswamy sees enterprises increasingly treating digital business as a team sport, rather than the sole domain of the IT department.

For this research, Gartner defined technology professionals as those whose primary job function is to help build technology products and services, using specific skills like software development testing and infrastructure management. This includes IT professionals and workers with specialized expertise such as CRM, AI, blockchain, and DevOps.

But instead of tech professionals driving what’s next, Gartner predicts a democratization of technology development that includes citizen developers, data scientists, and “business technologists,” a term that encompasses a wide range of employees who modify, customize, or configure their own analytics, process automation, or solutions as part of their day-to-day work. Aside from non-IT humans, AI systems that generate software will also play a significant role, according to Gartner.

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“Great resignation” wave coming for companies

By Erica Pandey

Companies that made it through the pandemic in one piece now have a major new problem: more than a quarter of their employees may leave.

What’s happening: Workers have had more than a year to reconsider work-life balance or career paths, and as the world opens back up, many of them will give their two weeks’ notice and make those changes they’ve been dreaming about.

“The great resignation” is what economists are dubbing it.

  • Surveys show anywhere from 25% to upwards of 40% of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs.
  • “I don’t envy the challenge that human resources faces right now,” says Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University.
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India to start drone trials for delivery of food, medicines, vaccines: Check details


A global drone services provider ANRA Technologies will hold experimental deliveries of medicines in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar and with Swiggy for food deliveries.

India will carry out the first long-range drone flights for delivery of medicines and food in parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Punjab.

The experimental deliveries will be conducted using long-range drones that can fly upto 20 kilometers, a report in The Economic Times said. This will mark the first time for use of such drones as India permits only drone flights within visual line of sight or 450 metres from the operator.

A global drone services provider ANRA Technologies will hold experimental deliveries of medicines in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar and with Swiggy for food deliveries, the report added.

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World’s first wooden satellite aims to prove plywood can survive space

Woodsat will take plywood to new heights in orbit later this year after acing a stratospheric test flight.

Amanda Kooser

The WISA Woodsat team is working with ESA on testing and sensors for the world’s first wooden satellite.Arctic Astronautics

Toothpicks. Tables. Crates. Spoons. Satellites? An ambitious project will send a tiny wooden satellite into orbit later this year to see if it can stand up to the brutal conditions of space. It’s already survived a test run into the stratosphere.

The WISA Woodsat is a 4-inch (10-centimeter) square satellite that’s scheduled for a fall launch on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket in New Zealand. Getting to orbit is only part of the adventure. Once it’s there, the team will monitor the little cube to see how its plywood build stands up to cold, heat, radiation and the vacuum of space.

Woodsat is the brainchild of Jari Makinen, co-founder of CubeSat replica kit company Arctic Astronautics. The European Space Agency, or ESA, is providing a suite of sensors to track the satellite’s performance and will also help with pre-flight testing.

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Watch: This new K-pop group was created with AI and deepfake technology

By Andy Meek

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un can angrily denounce K-pop as a “vicious cancer” all he wants. It’s not just that pop music has become one of the most beloved exports from his neighbor to the south, but the same holds true for pretty much the entirety of South Korean popular culture — everything from movies to music and TV shows, which have combined to form a staggeringly massive entertainment industry juggernaut, with few if any equals.

Netflix, for example, recognizes this and is currently pouring millions of dollars into funding new original Korean dramas and movies, like the newly released emotional masterpiece Move to Heaven, about a “trauma cleaner” and his uncle who pack up the belongings of people who’ve died and help their families to move on. All told, Netflix reportedly plans to spend half a billion dollars in 2021 on South Korean content, which also coincides with a moment that finds South Korean pop groups (like Blackpink and BTS) being among the biggest in the world. Those two groups, in particular, have millions of global fans and incomprehensibly massive audiences across social media — which might explain why the four members of Blackpink, in particular, got their own documentary treatment on Netflix, via their movie Light Up The Sky. Meanwhile, technology is also helping point toward a futuristic and potentially even more lucrative new chapter for Korean pop music. Case in point is the new K-pop group called Eternity, which recently made its debut via the song I’m Real, although this 11-member girl group is much different from anything else in the K-pop universe right now.

That’s because, with apologies to the message conveyed by Eternity’s debut song, the members are, in fact, not real. This new K-pop group, which is the product of AI graphics company Pulse 9, was created using deepfake technology to simulate hyper-realistic images of faux K-pop stars in the vein of some of the genre’s biggest female acts, a la Blackpink, Red Velvet, and Itzy.

“Unlike human singers,” Pulse 9 CEO Park Ji-eun told the South China Morning Post, “AI members can freely express themselves and weigh in on diverse social issues because they are less vulnerable to malicious comments and criticisms. As a creator, I can also add more fantastical and (impactful) elements to them, making them more distinguishable from existing K-pop acts.”

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Mayflower AI sea drone readies maiden transatlantic voyage

When the Mayflower leaves its home port in Plymouth, England to attempt the world’s first fully autonomous transatlantic voyage, it will be guided by a highly trained, artificial intelligence-driven ‘captain’ and a ‘navigator’ versed in the rules of avoiding collisions at sea

By Dee Ann Divis

Over its roughly three-week trip from England to the United States, the Mayflower will be guided by an artificial intelligence-powered ‘captain’ and make the journey without humans on board.

Another ship called the Mayflower is set to make its way across the Atlantic Ocean this week, but it won’t be carrying English pilgrims — or any people — at all.

When the Mayflower Autonomous Ship leaves its home port in Plymouth, England to attempt the world’s first fully autonomous transatlantic voyage, it will have a highly trained “captain” and a “navigator” versed in the rules of avoiding collisions at sea on board, both controlled by artificial intelligence (AI).

The ship’s AI captain was developed by Marine AI and is guided by an expert system based on IBM technologies, including automation software widely used by the financial sector. The technology could someday help crewed vessels navigate difficult situations and facilitate low-cost exploration of the oceans that cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.

Over its roughly three-week trip, the Mayflower sea drone will sail through the Isles of Scilly and over the site of the lost Titanic to land in Plymouth, Massachusetts, as the colonists on the first Mayflower did more than 400 years ago.

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Scientists Just Recorded A Brain Signal Using Quantum Technology

This is the first time a brain signal has been recorded with a modular quantum brain sensor.

By  Derya Ozdemir

Marking a key milestone for quantum brain imaging technology, researchers at the University of Sussex Quantum Systems and Devices laboratory have successfully developed a modular quantum brain scanner and utilized it to capture a brain signal. The researchers say their device is the first to do that using a modular brain scanner, according to a press release.

Modular sensors can be scaled up and connected together “like Lego bricks,” which is why the researchers also linked two sensors, demonstrating that whole-brain scanning, as well as finding potential advances for detecting and delivering treatment to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, with this technology might be just around the corner.

The device described in the study — which has been published in pre-print — has achieved something that is presently not achievable using commercially available quantum brain sensors from the U.S. It employs ultra-sensitive quantum sensors to pick up minuscule magnetic fields and map neural activity within the brain.

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New discovery shows human cells can write RNA sequences into DNA

by Thomas Jefferson University

Cells contain machinery that duplicates DNA into a new set that goes into a newly formed cell. That same class of machines, called polymerases, also build RNA messages, which are like notes copied from the central DNA repository of recipes, so they can be read more efficiently into proteins. But polymerases were thought to only work in one direction DNA into DNA or RNA. This prevents RNA messages from being rewritten back into the master recipe book of genomic DNA. Now, Thomas Jefferson University researchers provide the first evidence that RNA segments can be written back into DNA, which potentially challenges the central dogma in biology and could have wide implications affecting many fields of biology.

“This work opens the door to many other studies that will help us understand the significance of having a mechanism for converting RNA messages into DNA in our own cells,” says Richard Pomerantz, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Thomas Jefferson University. “The reality that a human polymerase can do this with high efficiency, raises many questions.” For example, this finding suggests that RNA messages can be used as templates for repairing or re-writing genomic DNA.

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Air Taxi Start-Up Vertical Aerospace to Go Public With Funding From American Airlines, Others

The company has pre-orders from its backers for up to 1,000 planes.

By Lou Whiteman

Air taxi start-up Vertical Aerospace Group said late Thursday it intends to go public with nearly $400 million in new funding from a number of big-name partners who have also agreed to order up to 1,000 aircraft.

Vertical has a deal to merge with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Broadstone Acquisition (NYSE:BSN). The deal values the combination at about $2.2 billion and includes investments from American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL), air-leasing company Avolon, and Virgin Atlantic airline, as well as an investment arm of Microsoft.

Vertical Aerospace’s main product is the VA-X4, a piloted, zero-emissions electric-vertical take off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. The airplane/helicopter hybrid is expected to have a range of 100 miles and capacity to carry four passengers along with a pilot at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.

These so-called air taxi developers are becoming a hot commodity on Wall Street. China’s Ehang Holdings is already public. Another start-up, Joby Aviation, has a deal pending to merge with SPAC Reinvent Technology Partners. And Embraer is reportedly in talks to merge its eVTOL unit with Zanite Acquisition, also a SPAC.

Vertical has a competitive advantage in the form of its investors. American, Virgin Atlantic, and Avolon together have committed to buy up to 1,000 aircraft. American, which said it has a “pre-order” of 250 aircraft with an option to order an additional 100, in a statement said eVTOLs could be a key part of its push to go green.

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