Futurism:
this week

Bioengineered 'pancreas' stops a diabetic from needing insulin

A woman with a particularly unwieldy form of type 1 diabetes received a transplant of insulin-producing islet cells into her omentum. A year later, her cells are continuing to operate as hoped, she no longer needs to receive insulin via injections or an insulin pump and remains in good health.

Source: Futurism

Volvo's CEO says the future of cars is electric

Volvo's CEO, Håkan Samuelsson, has said that the car maker's current diesel engines may well be the last of their kind. Samuelsson said that the change is necessary to meet upcoming European carbon emission standards, which require OEMs to drop from 130g/km to just 95g/km in 2021.

Source: Ars Technica

India aims to be the world leader in solar power

A planned coal fired power plant in India has been scrapped because the government wants to focus on green energy. Officials had planned a 4,000-Megawatt ultra-mega power project (UMPP), but the project would have hindered India's plan to run off one terawatt of solar energy by 2030.

Source: Independent

Physicists find catalyst that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen

University of Houston physicists have discovered a low-cost, readily available catalyst that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen, which works far more efficiently than previous catalysts. The discovery could solve one of the primary hurdles remaining in the bid to use water to produce hydrogen energy.

As the global climate changes trees in the US are heading West

Ecologists studying the effects of climate change have found that changing rainfall patterns may be driving some tree species in the eastern United States west. Scientists tracked the shifting distributions of 86 types of trees using data collected by the US Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program.

AI-equipped drones taught themselves how to fly by crashing 11,500 times

Roboticists from Carnegie Mellon University have released a paper titled “Learning to Fly by Crashing,” in which they demonstrate how drones taught themselves to fly thanks to being subjected to 11,500 collisions in 20 different indoor environments, spread over 40 hours of flying time.

Source: Digital Trends

China planning to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles

Xin Guobin, China's vice minister of industry and information technology, has said the government is working with regulators to put in place a timetable to end the production and sale of cars powered by fossil fuels. It's hoped the move will accelerate the expansion of the electric car market.

Source: Bloomberg

Limited Tesla Autopilot was "partly to blame" for crash

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that Tesla's Autopilot system was partly to blame for a fatal accident in which a Model S collided with a lorry. The safety board concluded that Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed,

Source: BBC

Chelsea Manning warns about the risks of AI

During a conversation at Noisebridge hackerspace, Chelsea Manning commented on some of the inherent risks of AI. "We’re now using huge datasets with all kinds of personal data, that we don’t even know what information we’re putting out there and what it’s getting collected for," Manning said.

Source: Ars Technica

US government bans Kaspersky software from its agencies

The Department of Homeland security has ordered government agencies to stop using software products made by Kaspersky Lab because of possible ties between Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence. The process of discontinuing Kaspersky products is expected to begin within 90 days.

Source: Ars Technica

Hyperloop One selects ten possible routes for the first hyperloop

Hyperloop One has announced that it has selected ten proposed routes for the first hyperloop. The company also announced that it would “commit meaningful business and engineering resources and work closely with each of the winning teams/routes to determine their commercial viability”.

Source: Inverse

Artificial 'skin' gives robotic hand a sense of touch

A team of researchers from the University of Houston has reported a breakthrough in stretchable electronics that can serve as an artificial skin, allowing a robotic hand to sense the difference between hot and cold, while also offering advantages for a wide range of biomedical devices.

Source: Science Daily

The plan to make every surface inside the car of the future smart

Yanfeng Automotive Interiors (YFAI) has revealed a vision for the future of cars where every surface inside the vehicle can become a smart surface.

Launched at the International Auto Show, YFAI’s activeSkin concept will turn the largely decorative surfaces inside cars, including the door trim, floor console and instrument panel, into smart interior surfaces, which YFAI says will be “fully interactive” and could be ready by 2022.

“The future generation of surfaces will be smarter than ever. Just by passing your hand over a upholstered surface of the car will appear an interactive surface or dynamic decorative ambient light. Surfaces interact with us, “says Han Hendriks , YFAI’s chief technology officer.

“This technology is impressive.”

Images courtesy of YFAI

YFAI says its customisable 3D glass surfaces could benefit drivers by replacing some of the current operating elements in traditional cars.

However, If no information is called up by the driver, integrated screens and operating surfaces would remain invisible as purely decorative glass surfaces, so drivers would not be distracted by unnecessary information popping up.

“We offer on-demand functionality, so it will only be visible when you need it. In this way we will be able to customise features on interior surfaces,” said Hendriks. “With activeSkin we can achieve a 3D effect that gives a feeling of amazing depth.”

This isn’t the first time YFAI has tried to predict what cars of the future will be like.

The company’s XiM17 concept car was designed with autonomous driving in mind and helped answer the question, “What will people do in their vehicle, if they no longer have to drive?”

YFAI’s XiM17 allows passengers to switch between a number of different modes to allow passengers a number of different ways of engaging.

For example, in family mode all four seats in the car are positioned facing each other, whereas in meeting mode the rear seats are folded away. so that the driver and passenger seats face each other. and a floor console rises to form a desk.