Social distancing robot 🤖, cyber spinach 🥬 and Jio raises $8 billion 💸!

Technology News

Spot the robot is reminding parkgoers in Singapore to keep their distance from one another

Singapore municipal authorities are using Boston Dynamics’ four-legged Spot robot to remind park visitors to keep a safe distance from one another. A Spot unit will patrol the city’s Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park as part of a two-week trial, broadcasting pre-recorded messages “to remind park visitors to observe safe distancing measures.” The robot is fitted with cameras that will be used to estimate the number of visitors to the park, but Singapore’s National Parks Board (NParks) says it won’t collect personal data or use the video to identify individuals. If the trial is successful, NParks says the robot could be deployed full-time during peak hours in the park.

Samsung to launch a Samsung Pay debit card this summer

Samsung plans to launch a Samsung Pay debit card this summer. Samsung will launch the card, which will be backed by a cash management account in partnership with personal finance company SoFi. Samsung is also developing a “mobile-first money management platform”. Samsung joins Apple in offering a branded payment card. Apple Card is a credit card issued in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Google is reportedly working on its own branded payment card as well, though Google’s will apparently be a debit card, like Samsung’s.

Science News

Cyber-spinach turns sunlight into sugar

Researchers have built an artificial version of a chloroplast, the photosynthetic structures inside plant cells. It uses sunlight and a laboratory-designed chemical pathway to turn CO2 into sugar. They named the pathway the CETCH cycle — a complicated network of enzymes that is 20% more energy efficient than the pathway used in natural forms of photosynthesis. The new chemical pathway is more efficient than anything nature has evolved, the team hopes that a similar process could some day even help to remove CO2 from the atmosphere — although it is not clear whether it could be turned into a large-scale, economically feasible operation.

Sea levels could rise more than a metre by 2100, experts say

Sea-level rise is faster than previously believed and could exceed 1 metre by the end of the century unless global emissions are reduced, according to a survey of more than 100 specialists. Based on new knowledge of climate sensitivity and polar ice melt, the experts say coastal cities should prepare for an impact that will hit sooner than predicted by the United Nations and could reach as high as 5 metres by 2300. With rising emissions and global heating of 4.5C above pre-industrial levels – the study estimates the surface of the world’s oceans in 2100 will be between 0.6 and 1.3 metres higher than today.

Business News

Asia’s Richest Man Mukesh Ambani Scores $8 Billion In Less Than Three Weeks

Jio Platforms, the telecom and digital unit of the Indian billionaire’s oil and gas giant Reliance Industries, announced that U.S. tech fund Vista Equity Partners will buy a 2.3% stake in it for $1.5 billion. This is the third investment that Jio has attracted in the past two-and-a-half weeks, raising a total of $8 billion for a cumulative $13.5% stake. It started with a bang when social networking giant Facebook agreed to acquire close to 10% for $5.7 billion. California-based private equity firm Silver Lake Partners then announced it would acquire just over 1% in Jio for $748 million. The Jio deals will help reduce Reliance’s heavy debt burden, which stands at $44.4 billion.

Tesla sues Alameda County to force California factory reopening

Tesla has filed a lawsuit against Alameda County in an effort to invalidate orders that have prevented the automaker from reopening its factory in Fremont, California. Elon Musk tweeted that he was filing a lawsuit and threatened to move headquarters and future programs to Texas or Nevada immediately. Alameda County, along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, extended the stay-at-home orders through the end of May. The lawsuit argues that Alameda County is going against its own guidance – “Alameda County has expressly recognized and publicized that “businesses may . . . operate to manufacture” batteries and electric vehicles.”

Miscellaneous News

Ethiopia admits shooting down Kenya aid aircraft in Somalia

Ethiopia admitted it was behind the shooting down of a privately owned Kenyan plane in Somalia resulting in the deaths of all six people on board. The aircraft had been carrying humanitarian and medical supplies to help the country fight the spread of coronavirus when it went down in Bardale, about 300km (180 miles) northwest of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. The Ethiopian soldiers mistakenly believed the plane was on a “potential suicide mission” because they had not been informed about the “unusual flight” and the aircraft was flying low.

Human urine could help make concrete on moon

The European Space Agency said that human urine could one day become a useful ingredient in making concrete to build on the moon. The agency said researchers in a recent study it sponsored found that urea, the main organic compound in urine, would make the mixture for a “lunar concrete” more malleable before it hardens into its sturdy final form. Urea, which can break hydrogen bonds and reduce the viscosity of fluid mixtures, would limit the amount of water necessary in the recipe.

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