Flying cars 🚘 Fruit peel batteries 🍊 Retail domination 🛍️!

Technology News

Watch a Toyota-backed flying car’s first public, piloted test flight

Toyota-backed SkyDrive has finally conducted a public, crewed test flight for its SD-03 vehicle around the Toyota Test Field in the city of Toyota with a pilot at the helm. The SD-03 is billed as the smallest electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicle in the world, and it’s meant to usher in a “new means of transportation”. It has a total of eight rotors that help it fly safely even if there’s a motor failure. The company is hoping for approval for flights beyond the test field by the end of 2020, and it expects a two-seat commercial machine by 2023. That lines up with Japan’s timeline for launching flying taxi service.

Neuralink demonstrates its next-generation brain-machine interface

In a live demo, readings from a pig’s brain were shown onscreen. When the pig touched an object with its snout, neurons captured by Neuralink’s technology fired in a visualization on a television monitor. The electrodes relay detected neural pulses to a processor that is able to read information from up to 1,536 channels, roughly 15 times better than current systems embedded in humans. Neuralink uniquely leverages flexible cellophane-like conductive wires inserted into tissue using a “sewing machine” surgical robot. Neuralink is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a future clinical trial for people with paraplegia.

Science News

NTU Singapore scientists use fruit peel to turn old batteries into new

Scientists have developed a novel method of using orange peel to extract and reuse precious metals from spent lithium-ion batteries in order to create new batteries. The team found that their approach successfully extracted around 90 per cent of cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese from spent lithium-ion batteries – a comparable efficacy to the approach using hydrogen peroxide. They then assembled new lithium-ion batteries, which showed a similar charge capacity to commercial ones. The team is now looking to further improve the performance of their batteries and optimising the conditions to scale up production.

Transplanted brown-fat-like cells hold promise for obesity and diabetes

Scientists have delivered a proof of concept for a novel cell-based therapy against obesity. The potential therapy would transplant HUMBLE (human brown-like) fat cells, human white fat cells that have been genetically modified to become similar to heat-generating brown fat cells. Mice given the HUMBLE transplants displayed much greater sensitivity to insulin and ability to clear glucose from the blood (two key factors that are impaired in type 2 diabetes). Additionally, the mice receiving HUMBLE transplants put on less weight than mice with transplanted white fat cells, remaining in the same range as animals who received brown fat cells.

Business News

Ambani to Pay $3.4 Billion for Tycoon Biyani’s Retail Units

Reliance Industries said it will acquire the retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units of India’s Future Group for 247.1 billion rupees ($3.4 billion), in a transaction that will propel Mukesh Ambani’s ambitions to dominate India’s retail sector. Future Group will merge some of its remaining businesses into Future Enterprises Ltd. Ambani’s unit will then invest 12 billion rupees to acquire about 6.1% stake in Future Enterprises. The transaction with the Future Group will bolster Reliance Retail – already the nation’s largest retailer by the number of stores – in a sector that’s estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion by 2025.

Walmart ad revenue could quickly jump if TikTok bid succeeds

Walmart Inc could turn into an online advertising leader if its plan to acquire popular short-form video app TikTok goes through. The proposed purchase, in partnership with Microsoft, would allow the world’s largest retailer to quickly compete with Amazon, Facebook and Google for eyeballs on social media, reaching customers across virtual and physical sales channels. “From a brand standpoint, it’s a no brainer because of the reach Walmart has and the huge shift we’re seeing right now from offline to online (spending)…For all of our brands and retailers that are eligible, we’re going to want them on Walmart for sure.”

Miscellaneous News

Ecuadorian spouses break record as the world’s oldest married couple

Julio Mora slipped away from his parents to secretly marry Waldramina Quinteros one February day. Both families disapproved. Seventy-nine years later, they’re still together — he at 110 years of age, and she at 104, both lucid and both in good health, though relatives say they’re a little depressed because they miss their big family get-togethers due to the pandemic. There are longer marriages, but at the moment no other between people so old, according to Guinness World Records — just short of a combined 215 years.

Banksy funds refugee rescue boat operating in Mediterranean

The British street artist Banksy has financed a boat to rescue refugees attempting to reach Europe from north Africa. The vessel, named Louise Michel after a French feminist anarchist, set off in secrecy on 18 August from the Spanish seaport of Burriana, near Valencia, and is now in the central Mediterranean where it rescued 89 people in distress, including 14 women and four children. Painted in bright pink and featuring Banksy artwork depicting a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy, the Louise Michel sails under a German flag.

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