Robot Chef 🍳 Made to order organs 🏥 VW invests in Argo AI 🚗!

Technology News

A good egg: robot chef trained to make omelettes

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in collaboration with appliance company Beko, used machine learning to train the robot to account for highly subjective matters of taste. Iida and his colleagues trained their robot chef to prepare an omelette, from cracking the eggs through to plating the finished dish. The results show that machine learning can be used to obtain quantifiable improvements in food optimisation. Additionally, such an approach can be easily extended to multiple robotic chefs. “Beko is passionate about designing the kitchen of the future and believes robotics applications such as this will play a crucial part.”

New glove lets you incorporate real-life objects into virtual worlds

A team from MIT’s CSAIL has developed a smart glove that can detect your hand pose, as well as distinguish between more than 30 different household objects. “Imagine a video game where you can grab an object off your desk and have it be seamlessly incorporated into gameplay.” The glove can capture other signals including heart rate and various metrics about an object being held including temperature, pressure and conductibility. It can even tell which letter of the alphabet its user is writing based on their hand pose (with 85% accuracy). The team named their system the “Mens et Manus Glove” after MIT’s motto (“MemGlove” for short).

Science News

Human mini-livers pave the way for made-to-order organ transplants

Scientists have created a fully-functional mini-livers out of human skin cells, then successfully transplanted them into rats. The research is a proof-of-concept for potentially revolutionary technology and provides a glimpse of an organ donor free future. This biofabrication technology may help close this organ shortage, speed up the transplant process, and lower the cost. The tech could also help provide a functional boost to failing livers, buying patients time as they wait for a full transplant. “What we are planning to do is to start making mini human organs that are universal.” This means scientists can biofabricate liver grafts that are universally accepted.

A boost for cancer immunotherapy

MIT engineers have now come up with a way to boost the effectiveness of one type of cancer immunotherapy. When they treated mice with existing drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, along with new nanoparticles that further stimulate the immune system, the therapy became more powerful than checkpoint inhibitors given alone. The team devised a way to package and deliver small pieces of DNA that crank up the immune response to tumours, creating a synergistic effect making the checkpoint inhibitors more effective. Studies in mice showed that the dual treatment halted tumour growth, and in some cases, stopped the growth of tumours elsewhere in the body.

Business News

Volkswagen closes $2.6 billion investment in self-driving start-up Argo AI

Volkswagen has closed its $2.6 billion investment in Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle start-up. The German automaker’s deal with Argo and Ford Motor, which acquired a majority stake in the start-up in 2017, included $1 billion in cash and Argo taking over VW’s European self-driving unit, as well as the unit’s 200+ employees. VW also agreed to purchase $500 million in shares of Argo from Ford over a three-year period. “This news not only solidifies our well-capitalized position, but differentiates us as the only self-driving technology platform company with partnerships and commercial agreements for deployment across the U.S. and Europe.”

India launches $6.7 billion plan to boost electronics manufacturing

India launched a $6.65 billion plan to boost electronics manufacturing, saying it would start by offering five global smartphone makers incentives to establish or expand domestic production. The government is offering a production-linked incentive (PLI) involving cash worth 4% to 6% of additional sales of goods made locally over five years, with 2019-2020 as the base year. Names of the five companies are expected to be announced in the next two months. Five Indian firms would also be selected for the PLI scheme which could help India produce smartphones and components worth 10 trillion rupees ($133 billion) by 2025.

Miscellaneous News

Adolf Hitler house to be ‘neutralised’, Austria says

Austria has unveiled plans to “neutralise” the building where Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler was born, by turning it into a police station. The government bought the building under a compulsory purchase order in 2016 after a lengthy dispute. The winning company – Marte.Marte, picked from among 12 candidates – submitted a plan which will cosmetically change the façade of the building and give it a new roof. Work is expected to be completed by 2023 and will cost about €5m ($5.6m; £4.5m).

U.S. pro-runner aims to smash world’s fastest mile wearing blue jeans

Johnny Gregorek’s Olympic dreams were postponed due to the pandemic, but he has now set his sights on a more restricting challenge — running the world’s fastest mile in jeans — and he’s doing it to raise mental health awareness.  He is looking to beat the “blue jean mile” record held by Dillon Maggard of 4:11.80 at an undisclosed track in Westchester County, N.Y. Gregorek currently holds the second-fastest indoor mile run by an American at 3:49.98. “I’ve been wearing Levi’s model 501. It’s not too tight and not too loose.”

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