The Download

What's up in emerging technology


Scientists Have Built a Robotic Remora 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 Yueping Wang at Beihang University in China have built a robot based on the… 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

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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

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  • 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

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  • 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
September 18, 2017

A Pair of AIs Have Become Very Good at Guessing Your Passwords

Two neural networks can guess a quarter of the passwords in use on a website. At least that's according to new research by a team from the Stevens Institute of Technology, who have built a so-called generative adversarial network that can make educated… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Jamie Condliffe

Google’s New Mobile Payment System Sends Money via Sound

The company's new digital payment app, called Tez, allows people in India to use a phone to pay for goods in physical stores and online, or make payments to other bank accounts. It’s different from the (already incredibly popular) Indian service PayTM… Read more

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  • Google
Is Trump wavering over the Paris climate deal?

Might America Stay in the Paris Climate Pact After All?

Some members of Trump’s administration appear not to be ruling it out. Over the weekend, off the back of a climate meeting in Montreal, secretary of state Rex Tillerson told CBS that the government is “open to finding … conditions where we can remain… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Veeterzy | Unsplash