AI combat drone 🚁, marijuana breathalyser 💨 and Apple Watch dominates Q1 ⌚!

Technology


Futuristic Combat Drone ‘Loyal Wingman’ by Boeing Rolls Out

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) just received a shiny new toy: the “Loyal Wingman” combat AI drone by Boeing. Boeing’s Loyal Wingman uses artificial intelligence to pilot the drone, instead of being controlled remotely. There is still some manual control, but this will be done through a minimal interface rather than a bulky conventional controller. The RAAF will now carry out flight tests and demos to see how best to integrate these drones into their forces; to keep pilots safe by placing unmanned lower cost assets on the front lines during risky fights. 

Volvo bucks the industry, will sell LIDAR-equipped self-driving cars to customers by 2022

Volvo says it has found a LIDAR maker that can produce the sensors cheap enough to justify installing them on its consumer vehicles — which it says will allow these cars to drive themselves. In 2018, Volvo made a “strategic investment” in a little-known Florida-based LIDAR company called Luminar to use the startup’s high-resolution long-range sensor to build self-driving cars. Volvo is now announcing that new LIDAR-equipped cars, which the Swedish automaker says will be able to drive themselves on highways with no human intervention, will start rolling off the production line in 2022.

Science


UCLA researchers develop chemistry needed to create marijuana breathalyzer

UCLA chemists have reported the key chemical discovery necessary for the creation of a small, electronic marijuana breathalyser. They developed a simple oxidation process similar to that used in an alcohol breathalyser. Oxidation is the loss of an electron from a molecule. The researchers removed a hydrogen molecule from THC. Alcohol breathalysers convert ethanol to an organic chemical compound, and hydrogen is lost through the oxidation process. “We remove a molecule of hydrogen from THC. That is oxidation. This leads to changes in the colour of the molecule that can be detected.”

The virus that causes cold sores could trigger a devastating brain condition

Herpes simplex virus type 1(HSV-1) is the kind of herpes that causes cold sores on your mouth. While uncomfortable, scientists are increasingly concerned about what the virus does on the inside of your skull. In 3D models of human brains, scientists found that HSV-1 can trigger build-up that resembles amyloid plaques. These are sticky clumps of proteins that tend to accumulate between the neurons of Alzheimer’s disease patients. In turn, these clumps pave the way for a slow decline in memory and cognitive skills.

Business


Apple Maintains Lead After Smartwatches Defy Global Sales Slump

Apple again commanded a majority share of the smartwatch market in the first quarter, when the Covid-19 outbreak encouraged health tracking and drove a 20% rise in shipments. Global smartwatch shipments reached 13.7 million units in the first three months of this year, defying a worldwide slump in consumer electronics arenas such as mobile phones. Apple’s share inched up a percentage point to 55.5%. Apple achieved its highest market share in two years after shipping 7.6 million units, Samsung Electronics Co. was second with 1.9 million.

Etsy sales doubled in April thanks to homemade masks

Etsy began pushing home-made masks in early April, and the results panned out in a big way: total sales on the platform doubled last month, by and large thanks to a surge in face mask sales. For comparison, Etsy’s marketplace sales figures between January and March were up only 16 percent. More than 12 million face masks were sold, totalling around $133 million in sales. Etsy says they represented the second largest category of product sales across the entire site during the month. It’s currently forecasting a significant boost in sales and revenue for all of its second quarter.

Miscellaneous


Biggest shark fin seizure in Hong Kong history recovers 26 tonnes, mostly from endangered species, in shipments from Ecuador

Hong Kong customs officials have made their largest shark fin seizure ever, uncovering 26 tonnes taken from 38,500 endangered sharks inside a pair of shipping containers from South America. The two consignments, worth HK$8.6 million (US$1.1 million), more than doubled the 12 tonnes of shark fin seized in all of 2019. Fisheries and Conservation Department estimated the fins had been removed from about 31,000 thresher sharks and 7,500 silky sharks. Each container contained more than 300 nylon bags of dried shark fins, with 90 per cent of the goods from controlled species.

To Survive Coronavirus Lockdown, Russia Recommends Staying Angry at Family for Less Than 10 Minutes

It’s likely that you’ve gotten fed up with your relatives since coronavirus lockdown measures went into effect. Luckily, Russia’s Health Ministry has a solution to your woes: Simply make sure you stay angry at them for no more than 10 minutes. The recommendations appear in an aptly named advisory, “How to Survive Self-Isolation and Not Go Crazy,” which was recently published on the Health Ministry’s website. “It’s permissible to be angry at other family members, but not for more than 3-10 minutes,” the guide says.

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