The Download

What's up in emerging technology


Next Up For Driverless Vehicles: Autonomous Excavators

Robotic earth movers are starting to break ground.

A startup called Built Robotics, founded by an ex-Google engineer and currently backed by $15 million of venture capital funding, has announced that it’s currently building a robotic tractor that digs… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Built Robotics

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T-cells like this can be engineered to fight cancer.

Why America’s Latest Commercial Gene Therapy Could Be a Big Money-Maker

The FDA has approved its second CAR-T cell therapy. This kind of treatment, which reprograms the DNA of a patient's T immune cells so that they attack cancer, has shown huge early success in trials and is widely anticipated to change the way many variants of… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • NIAID | Flickr
Wind power, all out at sea.

The World’s First Floating Wind Farm Is Now Producing Energy

Over 15 miles from the coast of Scotland, a wind power project could foreshadow a major part of our clean-energy future. Hywind Scotland, situated in Buchan Deep, is the world’s first floating wind farm, with its five six-megawatt turbines now generating… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Statoil
October 18, 2017 Drones, soon flying over our heads.

The FAA Is Finally Letting Drones Fly Over Crowds

And, frankly, it’s about damn time. If you’ve been following the swift progress being made in using drones for commercial applications like delivery, you’ll have noticed few of the trials ever take place in the U.S. Iceland, Switzerland, Britain, Australia… Read more

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  • Caleb Woods | Unsplash
One day, all this could be yours to play with on an iPhone.

Now You Can Manage Entire Factories from a Phone

If you think Facebook’s infinite scroll is endlessly compelling, imagine what it would be like to track the daily rumblings of an entire factory on a phone. That’s what Apple and GE have decided to make possible, by launching a software development kit… Read more

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  • Tokyoform | Flickr
Is this the city of the future?

Alphabet Will Turn Toronto Into a Living Laboratory of Urban Design

An 800-acre strip of the city’s waterfront may show us how cities of the future will be built.

Alphabet’s urban innovation division, Sidewalk Labs, has announced a project that aims to inject modern urban design and new technologies into the city’s quayside.… Read more

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  • Sidewalk Labs
October 17, 2017 Google's Pixel 2 smartphone is smarter than we knew.

Google’s First Mobile Chip Will Turbocharge Image Processing

And it’s already inside its latest smartphone, the Pixel 2. The Verge reports that Google’s new Pixel Visual Core chipset is designed to make image processing faster and smoother. It has eight processor cores that are meant to make HDR+ image processing—which… Read more

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  • Google

Alphabet’s Drones Are Now Delivering Right Into People’s Backyards

A new trial in southeastern Australia will see Alphabet’s X lab use its Project Wing drones to drop parcels of Mexican food and medical supplies (one hopes the former doesn’t necessitate the latter) right next to people’s back doors. Two local stores,… Read more

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  • X
Robots and humans need to get along.

Can Robots and Humans Learn to Labor and Love as One?

That's hardly a new kind of question, but with increasing leaps in AI and robotics, the search for answers gains more urgency. Indeed, as we've reported in the past, to truly make most effective use of robots we'll need to work out how to best get along… Read more

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  • Tecnalia | Flickr