this week

Solar windows could generate more than 80% of US electricity

A prototype solar powered smart window has been developed that breaks 11% efficiency, which is enough to generate over 80% of US electricity. The window lowers building temperatures by shifting from clear to opaque under strong sunlight, and when this happens the solar window begins electricity production.

Source: Electrek

Elon Musk proposes 125 to 150mph “Loop” for Chicago

Elon Musk tweeted that his Boring Company “will compete to fund, build & operate a high-speed Loop connecting Chicago O’Hare Airport to downtown.” If successful, Musk's proposal would see passengers transported on autonomous electric skates traveling at 125 to 150 mph.

Source: Ars Technica

Apple fixes flaw that made it possible to access a Mac without a password

Apple has acted swiftly to push out an update that fixes a major security hole in its Mac operating system. The flaw had made it possible to access a Mac without a password, and also have access to powerful administrator rights. The latest version of MacOS will automatically download the update.

Source: BBC

NASA is updating its rover for before its mission to Mars

NASA is updating its Curiosity Mars rover in preparation for a mission to find evidence of life on Mars. New hardware for the Mars 2020 mission includes seven new instruments, new wheels, a new drill to capture rock cores and a caching system with a miniature robotic arm to store the samples.

Source: Tech Crunch

UK government plans to legislate for drones misuse

Under legislation planned by the government, drone users in the UK may have to take safety awareness tests and drones weighing more than 250g could be banned from flying near airports. Police would also be given new powers to seize and ground drones which may have been used in criminal activity.

Source: BBC

GM says it will launch a robot taxi service in 2019

GM says it will have a ride-sharing service featuring its line of self-driving Chevy Bolts ready to go by 2019. If that were to happen, it would place the No. 1 US automaker ahead of its main rival Ford, which has said it plans to unveil its own self-driving car without pedals or a steering wheel by 2021.

Source: The Verge

Wishing you a futuristic Christmas and a fantastic New Year from team Factor

Factor is taking a break for the Christmas season, but we’ll be returning in January for more futuristic news and features.

Until then, check out our stunning new digital magazine, which is free to read on any device for your future fix.

From the issues of today, to the future of tomorrow and beyond, there’s something for everyone, from flying cars and Richard Stallman on privacy to life in the 22nd century and the space colonies of the future human race. There’s even a look at the Christmas dinners of the future.

And if you’re still looking for presents, check out of bumper futuristic gift guide for ideas to suit every budget.

Merry Christmas, and see you in 2018!

FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service on certain content. The FCC’s net neutrality rules were originally passed in 2015.

Doctors say Haemophilia A trial results are "mind-blowing"

Doctors say the results of a gene therapy trial into haemophilia A, whose suffers don't produce a protein needed to stop bleeding, are "mind-blowing". Thirteen patients given the gene therapy at Barts Health NHS Trust are now off treatment with 11 producing near-normal levels of the protein.

Source: BBC

Scientists use stem cells to make paralysed rat walk again

Scientists have used stem cells from an adult human's mouth to induce spinal cord regeneration in a rat. This effectively created a pathway circumventing the injured area so that instructions from the brain could reach the rest of the body, curing the animal that was previously totally paralysed.

NASA uses AI to find new exoplanet

Researchers have announced the discovery of an eighth planet orbiting the star Kepler-90. The discovery of Kepler 90i was made when researchers on the Kepler planet-hunting telescope teamed up with artificial intelligence specialists at Google to analyse data collected by the space-based observatory.

AI engine AlphaZero's win will "scramble" chess world

Having beaten the world's the highest-rated chess engine Stockfish, world champion chess player Viswanathan Anand believes the AI programme AlphaZero will change the way humans play the game. "We've got a clean start and the implications are very interesting," said Anand.

Source: ESPN

Following criticism, animal shelter fires security robot

A San Francisco animal adoption agency will immediately stop using a controversial security robot. The move comes after the San Francisco SPCA had been criticised for its deployment of a Knightscope K9 to mitigate vandalism and the presence of homeless people at its Mission District office.

Source: Ars Technica