this week

The US wants to go back to the Moon

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, on the eve of the first gathering of the US' National Space Council, vice president Mike Pence has set out the nation's intention to return to the Moon. In the piece, Pence said the nation is intent on "establishing a renewed American presence on the Moon".

Source: Ars Technica

Elon Musk thinks he can rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid

SolarCity founder Elon Musk has said that Puerto Rico’s power grid can be rebuilt with batteries and solar power. “The Tesla team has [built solar grids] for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” Musk tweeted on Thursday.

Source: The Hill

Boeing backs electric commuter plane that could take off in 2022

A Seattle-area startup backed by Boeing and JetBlue Airways has announced plans to begin selling a hybrid-electric commuter aircraft by 2022. The small plane would seat up to 12 passengers and be powered by two electric motors, dramatically reducing the travel time and cost of trips under 1,000 miles.

Source: The Guardian

Driverless cars to be tested in retirement village

Two self-driving cars will be deployed in a gated community for senior citizens in San Jose. The cars will offer trips to 4,000 residents, while they also learn how to interact with pedestrians, animals, roundabouts, and golf carts. The speed limit is only 25 mph, which will help reduce the risk if something goes wrong.

General Motors makes plans for an all-electric future

General Motors has announced that it is working toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future, and will start that process with two new, fully electric models next year – then at least 18 more by 2023. “General Motors believes the future is all-electric,” said Mark Reuss, the company’s head of product.

Source: Wired

Yahoo thinks all accounts were compromised in 2013 breach

Yahoo now believes that its massive 2013 security breach led to all of its three billion accounts being compromised. "The company recently obtained new intelligence and now believes... that all Yahoo user accounts were affected by the August 2013 theft," reads Yahoo's statement.

Source: TechCrunch

Footage of fatal crash involving self-driving Uber released

The Tempe Police Department has released the first footage of this week’s fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber. Police had previously said that the Uber, which had a safety driver inside, did not slow down before it struck the victim, something the footage appears to confirm.

Source: The Verge

Police ask Google to help in the pursuit of two gunmen

Google may have helped solve two separate crimes committed roughly one-a-half years apart. According to reports, Raleigh police presented Google with warrants for data from all the mobile devices that were within a certain distance of the respective crime scenes at the time the crimes were committed.

Source: Tech Crunch

Teenager hacks "tamper-proof" cryptocurrency wallet

A hardware wallet designed to store cryptocurrencies, and touted by its manufacturer as tamper-proof, has been hacked by a British 15-year-old. Saleem Rashid said he had written code that gave him a back door into the Ledger Nano S, which would allow a malicious attacker to drain the wallet of funds.

Source: BBC

Tooth-mounted sensor tracks what your're eating

Scientists at Tufts University have developed a wireless sensor that can be attached onto a person’s tooth to track what they are eating and drinking. In their study, the researchers describe how the sensor is able to transmit information about a person’s glucose, salt and alcohol intake.

Source: Alphr

Scientists develop AI software that can reproduce like a living thing

Computer scientists have created a neural network that continually self improves by mimicking the biological self-replication process. “Self-replication is a key aspect of biological life that has been largely overlooked in Artificial Intelligence systems,” the scientists are quoted as saying.

Source: The Register

Boring Company unveils proposed ‘Loop’ route

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has unveiled the first leg of its hyperloop project, which is a ‘Loop’ transit system to travel between Washington D.C. and Baltimore in 15 minutes. The Boring Company’s main project is its network of tunnels under Los Angeles, where it already started digging last year.

Source: Electrek

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