XPRIZE launches contest to build remote-controlled robot avatars

Prize fund XPRIZE and All Nippon Airways are offering $10 million reward to research teas who develop tech that eliminates the need to physically travel. The initial idea is that instead of plane travel, people could use goggles, ear phones and haptic tech to control a humanoid robot and experience different locations.

Source: Tech Crunch

NASA reveals plans for huge spacecraft to blow up asteroids

NASA has revealed plans for a huge nuclear spacecraft capable of shunting or blowing up an asteroid if it was on course to wipe out life on Earth. The agency published details of its Hammer deterrent, which is an eight tonne spaceship capable of deflecting a giant space rock.

Source: The Telegraph

Sierra Leone hosts the world’s first blockchain-powered elections

Sierra Leone recorded votes in its recent election to a blockchain. The tech, anonymously stored votes in an immutable ledger, thereby offering instant access to the election results. “This is the first time a government election is using blockchain technology,” said Leonardo Gammar of Agora, the company behind the technology.

Source: Quartz

AI-powered robot shoots perfect free throws

Japanese news agency Asahi Shimbun has reported on a AI-powered robot that shoots perfect free throws in a game of basketball. The robot was training by repeating shots, up to 12 feet from the hoop, 200,000 times, and its developers said it can hit these close shots with almost perfect accuracy.

Source: Motherboard

Russia accused of engineering cyberattacks by the US

Russia has been accused of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted critical infrastructure in America and Europe, which could have sabotaged or shut down power plants. US officials and private security firms claim the attacks are a signal by Russia that it could disrupt the West’s critical facilities.

Google founder Larry Page unveils self-flying air taxi

A firm funded by Google founder Larry Page has unveiled an electric, self-flying air taxi that can travel at up to 180 km/h (110mph). The taxi takes off and lands vertically, and can do 100 km on a single charge. It will eventually be available to customers as a service "similar to an airline or a rideshare".

Source: BBC

Tesla’s electric semi trucks make maiden deliveries

Tesla's all-electric semi trucks have embarked on their first-ever delivery run. The trucks are being used to transport battery packs between two Tesla facilities and should cover a round-trip distance of just under 500 miles, which Tesla says the trucks can complete on a single charge.

Source: Digital Trends

Exercise in old age prevents the immune system from declining

Scientists have concluded that doing lots of exercise in older age can prevent the immune system from declining and protect people against infections. Their study followed 125 long-distance cyclists, some now in their 80s, and found they had the immune systems of 20-year-olds.

Source: BBC

Google is helping the US military build AI for drones

Google has partnered with the US' Department of Defence to use AI for analysing drone footage. The project’s first assignment was to help the Pentagon efficiently process the deluge of video footage collected daily by its aerial drones – an amount of footage so vast that human analysts can’t keep up.

Source: Gizmodo

Uber’s self-driving trucks have begun delivering freight

Uber has announced that it is now operating a fleet of self-driving trucks on its freight-hauling app. The shipments are taking place in Arizona, where Uber says it is using a transfer hub model, in which the trucks drive autonomously on the highway and human drivers take over for the last few miles.

Source: The Verge

Nanoparticle eyedrops could end the need for glasses

Eyedrops containing “special nanoparticles” have reportedly improved both short and long-sightedness in pig's eyes. Clinical testing in humans is set to take place later in 2018 for the process which would see people undergo a less than 1-second-long laser procedure before using the nanoparticles.

Source: Digital Trends

Trump impressed by the price of Falcon Heavy

President Donald Trump has remarked on the price of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. "I noticed the prices of the last one they say cost $80 million. If the government did it, the same thing would have cost probably 40 or 50 times that amount of money. I mean literally," said Trump.

Source: Ars Technica