#Japan, #JapanSkyDriveInc; #FlyingCar
Japan, Aug 31 (Canadian-Media): Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of "flying car" projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard, https://techxplore.com/news reports said.
This photo taken at the beginning of August, 2020 and released by ©SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR 2020, shows a test flight of a manned '"flying car" at Toyota Test Field in Toyota, central Japan. Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of "flying car" projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard.
Image credit: (©SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR 2020 via AP)
The decades-old dream of zipping around in the sky as simply as driving on highways may be becoming less illusory.
In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption that looked like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted several feet (1-2 meters) off the ground, and hovered in a netted area for four minutes.
Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads the SkyDrive effort, said he hopes "the flying car" can be made into a real-life product by 2023, but he acknowledged that making it safe was critical.
"Of the world's more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board," he told The Associated Press.
"I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe."
The machine so far can fly for just five to 10 minutes but if that can become 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to places like China, Fukuzawa said.
Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or "electric vertical takeoff and landing," vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle.
They could do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams and the cost of hiring pilots, they could fly automatically.
Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges to commercializing them.
"Many things have to happen," said Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-founded Near Earth Autonomy, near Pittsburgh, which is also working on an eVTOL aircraft.
"If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them. If they fly for 5 minutes, no one is going to buy them. If they fall out of the sky every so often, no one is going to buy them," Singh said in a telephone interview.
The SkyDrive project began humbly as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012, with funding by top Japanese companies including automaker Toyota Motor Corp., electronics company Panasonic Corp. and video-game developer Bandai Namco.
A demonstration flight three years ago went poorly. But it has improved and the project recently received another round of funding, of 3.9 billion yen ($37 million), including from the Development Bank of Japan.
The Japanese government is bullish on "the Jetsons" vision, with a "road map" for business services by 2023, and expanded commercial use by the 2030s, stressing its potential for connecting remote areas and providing lifelines in disasters.
Experts compare the buzz over flying cars to the days when the aviation industry got started with the Wright Brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T.
Lilium of Germany, Joby Aviation in California and Wisk, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Kitty Hawk Corp., are also working on eVTOL projects.
Sebastian Thrun, chief executive of Kitty Hawk, said it took time for airplanes, cell phones and self-driving cars to win acceptance.
"But the time between technology and social adoption might be more compressed for eVTOL vehicles," he said.
#London; #UnitedKingdom; #InternetSpeed; #Covid19
London (United Kingdom), Aug 23 (Canadian-Media): The world's fastest data transmission rate has been achieved by a team of University College London engineers who achieved internet transmission speed a fifth faster than the previous record, https://techxplore.com/news/2020 news reports said.
Dr Lidia Galdino, UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering. Credit: University College London
Working with two companies, Xtera and KDDI Research, the research team led by Dr. Lidia Galdino (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering), achieved a data transmission rate of 178 terabits a second (178,000,000 megabits a second) – a speed at which it would be possible to download the entire Netflix library in less than a second.
The record, which is double the capacity of any system currently deployed in the world, was achieved by transmitting data through a much wider range of colors of light, or wavelengths, than is typically used in optical fiber. (Current infrastructure uses a limited spectrum bandwidth of 4.5THz, with 9THz commercial bandwidth systems entering the market, whereas the researchers used a bandwidth of 16.8THz.)
To do this, researchers combined different amplifier technologies needed to boost the signal power over this wider bandwidth and maximized speed by developing new Geometric Shaping (GS) constellations (patterns of signal combinations that make best use of the phase, brightness and polarization properties of the light), manipulating the properties of each individual wavelength. The achievement is described in a new paper in IEEE Photonics Technology Letters.
The benefit of the technique is that it can be deployed on already existing infrastructure cost-effectively, by upgrading the amplifiers that are located on optical fiber routes at 40-100km intervals. (Upgrading an amplifier would cost £16,000, while installing new optical fibers can, in urban areas, cost up to £450,000 a kilometer.)
The new record, demonstrated in a UCL lab, is a fifth faster than the previous world record held by a team in Japan.
At this speed, it would take less than an hour to download the data that made up the world's first image of a black hole (which, because of its size, had to be stored on half a ton of hard drives and transported by plane). The speed is close to the theoretical limit of data transmission set out by American mathematician Claude Shannon in 1949.
Lead author Dr. Galdino, a Lecturer at UCL and a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, said: "While current state-of-the-art cloud data-center interconnections are capable of transporting up to 35 terabits a second, we are working with new technologies that utilize more efficiently the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fiber bandwidth and enabling a world record transmission rate of 178 terabits a second."
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, demand for broadband communication services has soared, with some operators experiencing as much as a 60% increase in internet traffic compared to before the crisis. In this unprecedented situation, the resilience and capability of broadband networks has become even more critical.
Dr. Galdino added: "But independent of the COVID-19 crisis, internet traffic has increased exponentially over the last 10 years, and this whole growth in data demand is related to the cost per bit going down. The development of new technologies is crucial to maintaining this trend towards lower costs while meeting future data rate demands that will continue to increase, with as yet unthought-of applications that will transform people's lives."
Washington; #US; #China; #ByteDance; TikTok; #ExecutiveOrder
Washington, Aug 15 (Canadian-Media): An executive order had been issued Aug 15 by United States (US) President Donald Trump demanding China's ByteDance, the owner of TikTok to divest interests in TikTok's US operations within 90 days.
TikTok. Image credit: Twitter handle
“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance ... might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” Trump said in his order.
ByteDance is expected to destroy, under the latest order, all its copies of TikTok, a wildly popular short form video-sharing app, data attached to U.S. users, and le the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) know when it has destroyed all that data.
"In order to effectuate this order, not later than 90 days after the date of this order, unless such date is extended for a period not to exceed 30 days, on such written conditions as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) may impose, ByteDance, its subsidiaries, affiliates, and Chinese shareholders, shall divest all interests and rights in: any tangible or intangible assets or property, wherever located, used to enable or support ByteDance's operation of the TikTok application in the United States, as determined by the Committee," Trump said in the order on Friday.
ByteDance responded Aug 14 to Trump’s latest order with the following statement: “As we’ve said previously, TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection. We’re committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come.”
#Ottawa, #loweringSpeedLimits; #SavesLives; #ClimateBenefits; #SlowsClimateChange
Ottawa, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): The attempt to lower speed limits in Canadian cities from Edmonton to Montreal not only saves lives, but also leads to lead to indirect climate benefits by slowing down climate change, media reports said.
Lower Speed Limits. Image credit: Twitter handle
Natural Resources Canada estimated that an internal combustion engine driven vehicle with a speed of 120 km/h burns 20 percent more fuel than driving the same distance at 100 km/h.
Trucks with installed technology to limit their speed to 105 km/h, required by Ontario law were estimated to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 4.6 megatonnes between 2009 and 2020.
But slowing down to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution would be not just on urban roadways but also on highways.
Certain pollutants such as nitrogen oxides are generated mainly at higher speeds, said Marianne Hatzopoulou, professor and Canada research chair in transportation and air quality at the University of Toronto.
Some eco-friendly driving tips from Hatzopoulo include sticking to the posted speed limit (or go slower if there's congestion or traffic signals ahead), Keeping a steady pace (cruise control can help), slowing of both acceleration and deceleration, and limiting the number of times you change speed which means fewer lane changes and less passing.
Lower speed limits lead to indirect climate benefits in discouraging car travel and, by making streets safer, encourage walking and cycling.
The city of Prince George, British Columbia, advocates reducing downtown speed limits to 30 km/h specifically to encourage walking and cycling as part of its 2020 climate mitigation plan.
"Slower speeds … actually create liveability," said Sandy James, a Vancouver-based urban planner who has been advocating for lower speed limits for years.
US-Australia Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Frontier Technologies Dialogue, Virtual convention
#US; #Australia; #JCM; #Science&Technologies; #AI; #NSF; #QIS; #COVID19
United States, Aug 12 (Canadian-Media): A virtual convention was held Aug 12 between the United States of America (US) and Australia for the Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) on Science and Frontier Technologies Dialogue to further strengthen cooperation between the world-class scientific communities.
The American delegation led by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Kelvin Droegemeier and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios also included leaders from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health.
The Australian delegation, led by Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, and included leaders from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources; Department of Education, Skills and Employment; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization; National Measurement Institute; and Geoscience Australia.
The convening of the Dialogue was held under the authority of the Agreement Relating to Scientific and Technical Cooperation between the Government of the United States and the Government of Australia, signed in November 2016.
The inclusion of a Frontier Technologies Dialogue follows the September 2019 Leaders’ meeting between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, during which both leaders underscored the importance of science and technology cooperation including advancing frontier technologies.
Both US and Australia have a long and productive history of partnership in areas of science and technology which was first formally acknowledged in a cooperation agreement signed in 1968.
The Dialogue undertook a meaningful exchange of views related to artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science (QIS), and oceans exploration and mapping, approaches to ensure the integrity of the international research enterprise benefiting citizens including freedom of inquiry, merit-based competition, accountability, integrity, openness, transparency, reciprocity, protection of intellectual property, safe and inclusive research environments, rigor and integrity in research, research security, and reducing administrative workload.
To accelerate discovery in QIS, the US and Australia are identifying opportunities to share resources and expertise, including between industry and government stakeholders, for strengthened bilateral cooperation, exploring ways to leverage existing programs and opportunities to deepen cooperation, realize the transformative potential of QIS, and advance its positive impact on the national security and economic prosperity of both countries.
In their fight against COVID-19 together, Australia has joined the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, with rapid access to the world’s most powerful high performance computing resources to advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus.
Australia’s National Computational Infrastructure and Pawsey Super Computing Centre will partner with the consortium in advancing science and discovery and sharing knowledge.
With current and planned ocean initiatives and are identifying opportunities for future collaboration, both US and Australia are committed to advancing ocean mapping and exploration to support growth of the sustainable blue economy and stimulate economic recovery, joint development and testing of innovative tools and systems (e.g., autonomous and robotic technologies, AI and machine learning, cloud computing) to better map, explore, and understand the regional ocean environment.
These two countries also recognize the importance of continued science-based coordination in the Pacific Ocean, including to underpin the administration and sustainable management of the marine environment with Pacific Island countries.
Upon its conclusion, they found that the Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Frontier Technologies Dialogue was highly productive and strengthens the already great partnership between the two nations..
#AI; #Covid19ClinicalTrials; #remdesivir
New York, Aug 10 (Canadian-Media): As scientists uncover drugs that can treat coronavirus infections, demand will almost certainly outstrip supplies—as is already happening with the antiviral remdesivir. To prevent shortages, researchers have come up with a new way to design synthetic routes to drugs now being tested in some COVID-19 clinical trials, using artificial intelligence (AI) software. The AI-planned new recipes—for 11 medicines so far—could help manufacturers produce medications whose syntheses are tightly held trade secrets. And because the new methods use cheap, readily available starting materials, licensed drug suppliers could quickly ramp up production of any promising therapies.
Covid19 Pandemic. Image credit: Twitter handle
“If you are going to supply a drug to the world, your starting materials have to be cheap and as available as sugar,” says Danielle Schultz, a chemist at Merck. The new method, posted as a preprint this week, “is really solid,” she says. “I am impressed by the speed at which [the researchers] were able to find new solutions for making existing drugs.
Patents give pharmaceutical companies the right to be the sole supplier of a new drug in a given country, usually for 20 years. Once a drug goes off patent, other companies can produce and sell it as a generic. The method to make the drug is often secret to discourage competition even after patents expire. But COVID-19 has changed all that, Schultz says. “We are at a time when it’s all hands on deck.”
Only two medicines—remdesivir and dexamethasone--are currently proven to fight COVID-19. That has led to supply shortages for both. On 4 August, attorneys general from 34 U.S. states wrote federal officials, calling remdesivir supplies “dangerously limited,” and urging states be given “march-in rights” to violate owner Gilead Sciences’ patents. Such rights would allow states to work with third-party manufacturers to make additional supplies of the drug.
To prevent future supply crunches, University of Michigan chemist Timothy Cernak and colleagues turned to a commercial drug synthesis AI program called Synthia. The software can help pharmaceutical manufacturers find the most efficient and cost-effective strategy for synthesizing medicines, most of which are fairly complex molecules that can be built in myriad ways—much as an artist can apply brush strokes in infinite combinations to paint the same landscape. “It’s more options than the human mind can comprehend,” Cernak says.
Cernak and his colleagues scoured the research and patent literature for ways to synthesize 12 medications now being tested as COVID-19 therapies, including remdesivir. They then programmed Synthia to search for new synthetic solutions. They limited their search to options that used cheap, abundant starting materials, didn’t require expensive catalysts or equipment, and could produce kilogram-scale amounts of drug.
In the end, the software found novel solutions for making 11 out of the 12 compounds, including generic antivirals umifenovir and favipiravir, the researchers report this week in a non-peer-reviewed preprint on ChemRxiv. The AI program came up with four different ways to synthesize umifenovir, for example, in one case with cheaper starting materials than those currently in use. “For the same amount of money [or less], we can make these drugs from different starting materials,” Cernak says. The one miss was remdesivir: The software was unable to come up with a solution for making it other than the way than Gilead does, he says.
Cernak says he and his team filed patents on all of their new synthetic routes. But their goal isn’t to make a profit. Instead, they want to license their manufacturing approaches to one or more pharmaceutical companies to ensure adequate supplies and low prices.
Now, he adds, they wait and see whether any of the drugs prove effective in clinical trials.
Science's COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation.
#Google; #Investigation; #EU; #Fitbit
New York, Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): An in-depth investigation is being opened by European Union (EU) officials into U.S. tech giant Google's plan to buy fitness tracking device maker Fitbit, because of the concern that deal would expand Google's "data advantage," and raise barriers for rivals to match Google's online advertising services, media reports said.
Google. Image credit: Twitter handle
Google's plan to acquire Fitbit was a bold step into health and fitness technology in its efforts to become a force in consumer hardware.
"This deal is about devices, not data," said Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice-president for devices and services. "We've been clear from the beginning that we will not use Fitbit health and wellness data for Google ads," he wrote in a blog post.
With its initiative, Fitbit had launched wearable fitness technology with devices to track activities such as running, cycling and swimming and record sleep patterns and heart rates.
Fitbit has more than 28 million active users worldwide and has sold more than 100 million devices.
Citing privacy and antitrust concerns, authorities have been called by privacy and consumer groups to block Google's deal to buy Fitbit in November for $2.1 billion US.
"Investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition," said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has been at the forefront of the movement to govern and control the likes of Google and its Silicon Valley rivals.
During her first five-year term as competition commissioner, she hit Google with nearly $10 billion in penalties for multiple antitrust cases involving its Android operating system, advertising business and shopping service.
The investigation also underscores the leading role of EU authorities in global efforts to regulate the big technology companies.