The Download

What's up in emerging technology


Lockheed’s Laser Cannon Shoots Drones Out of the Sky, No Fuss

Don’t mess with ATHENA. That’s the Advanced Test High Energy Asset to you and me, and it’s Lockheed’s astonishingly destructive laser cannon. It’s been developing the weapon in order to take down drones without messy—and position-revealing—recourse to… Read more

Source: Video credit:
  • Lockheed
Your phone will soon have a much better idea where you are.

Your Next Phone’s GPS Is Going to Be Way More Accurate

It’ll know where you are to within 30 centimeters, rather than five meters. At least that’s the claim chip maker Broadcom is making. It says that some of its next-generation smartphone chips will use new global positioning satellite signals to boost… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Linda Sondergaard | Unsplash
The Google Pixel smartphone

Google’s $1.1 Billion Slice of HTC Is a Push to Make Money Out of AI

Google is buying the HTC team that it uses to design its Pixel phones, including 2,000 staff and a stack of intellectual property. The deal is a clear sign that Google is dead serious about its drive to build hardware. But as we’ve argued before, this… Read more

Image credit:
  • Justin Main | Unsplash

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Scientists Have Built a Shark-Sucking Robot That Is Hideous and Cool

If you've ever watched "Shark Week," you know those weird fish stuck just below sharks' gaping maws—well, now there's a robotic version of those little guys. Researchers led by Li Wen at Beihang University in China have built a robot based on the slender… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Wang et al., Science

Amazon Is Reportedly Building Alexa Smart Specs

Get ready to hear the soft voice of your AI assistant cooing right into your ear, wherever you are. The Financial Times reports ($) that Amazon is building a wearable addition to its AI assistant range in the form of smart spectacles.

Developed by ex-Google… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Mr Tech
Theresa May at the United Nations general assembly

World Leaders and Tech Titans Duke It Out Over Policing Extremist Content

In the blue corner, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron; in the red corner, Facebook and Google. At stake: the fate of policing terrorist propaganda on the Internet.

The Guardian reports that, at the United Nations general assembly today, British prime minister… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Crown Copyright | Lee Goddard
Drone delivers are headed to cities.

Urban Drone Deliveries Are Finally Taking Flight

Swiss cities will soon have delivery drones zipping through their airspace. Drone startup Matternet has announced that it will start using a network of robotic quadcopters to make deliveries to hospitals in urban areas across Switzerland later this year.… Read more

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  • Matternet
September 19, 2017 Proterra's electric bus keeps going and going.

Giant Mining Trucks and Buses Are Smashing Electric Vehicle Records

Size now appears to be no barrier to building competent vehicles without internal combustion engines. Big battery-powered electric vehicles like trucks once seemed fanciful, because their large masses need a lot of energy to shift and diesel fuel is… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Proterra
Pi's new technology is claimed to charge a phone from 12 inches.

Wireless Gadget Charging Just Got a Range Boost

Your phone could soon get juiced over the air from a foot away. That's thanks to the work of a new startup called Pi. Founded by two MIT graduates, it has developed a wireless charger that uses a honed version of inductive charging to send power further… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Pi
There may be more climate breathing room than we thought.

Just 1.5 °C of Global Warming May Be Achievable After All

We may yet be able to meet the most ambitious of goals from the Paris climate pact. A new study published in Nature Geoscience claims that we have overestimated the planet's warming to date. Newly updated models that form part of the research suggest… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Thomas Hafeneth | Unsplash