Over the past 100 years, the technology inside airplanes has become more and more advanced from jumbo jets to smaller Cessna’s. Some see the next step to full automation as removing the pilot completely. Reliable Robots and Xwing are two Bay Area start-ups working on doing just that. Rather than build new aircraft, both companies have retrofitted Cessna Grand Caravan’s. The planes can fly autonomously with a remote operator who monitors the flight and can take control if needed. Both companies are working with the FAA on getting approval. Xwing took CNBC for a test flight, where the pilot didn’t touch the controls once. Watch the video to learn how it works and when pilotless planes will become the norm.
Arizona has rapidly become an epicenter for electric vehicle and self-driving tech, and it’s now the site of three big new semiconductor factories as the U.S. struggles to increase production during the global chip shortage. In 2020, Phoenix attracted more residents than any other U.S. city for the fourth year in a row, as highly skilled workers flocked to the lower cost of living and wide open spaces of the Grand Canyon State. From Lucid Motors to ElectraMeccanica, Intel to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, 634 companies relocated or expanded in Arizona between 2015 and 2020. CNBC asked the governor, big companies, and Arizonans about why the tech boom is happening and how it’s changing the state.
Even though sand can be found in nearly every single country on Earth, the world could soon face a shortage of this crucial, under-appreciated commodity. Sand use around the world has tripled in the last twenty years, according to the UNEP. That’s far greater than the rate at which sand is being replenished. Here’s what’s behind the looming sand crisis.
Myanmar is on the brink of collapse. Its armed forces are continuing a brutal crackdown—arresting, torturing and killing protesters—as Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de-facto leader, is detained. Our experts answer your questions.
Chapters 00:00 – What will happen to Aung San Suu Kyi? 02:15 – What are India and China doing? 03:37 – Should the West intervene? 05:25 – What’s happening to the Rohingya refugees? 07:16 – How will Myanmar’s neighbours be affected? 08:44 – Will civil war break out? 10:36 – Can the protesters win? 12:05 – Will Myanmar become a failed state?
While the automotive industry was ravaged early on in the pandemic thanks to lockdown measures and a dramatic decrease in travel, it more recently has begun facing a new problem: a shortage of microchips.
Microchips are vital to much of a vehicle’s key functions, such as engine control, transmission, infotainment systems, and more. In the last half of 2020 and now in 2021, vehicle sales recovered fairly quickly, faster than automakers anticipated.
Suddenly, they were struggling to meet demand. At the same time, chipmakers were experiencing supply shortages and increased demand from other sectors, such as personal electronics. With the resulting lack of microchip supply, automakers have been forced to slow production, even on their most popular models. For several automakers, the shortage is expected to cost them $1 billion or more — and even still, the alternatives are worryingly few.
In February 2021, India and Pakistan agreed to strictly observe all previous agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors, and to address core issues and concerns. It was their first joint statement in over eight years. But will the agreement be upheld this time? Both countries have come close to an all-out military conflict several times in the past two decades. DW takes a look at factors that are driving the hostility between the two South Asian neighbors.
Armed drones are growing in military importance as conflicts around the world have proven the utility of these effective tools of war. Companies in China, Turkey, and Russia, among others, have developed advanced remotely piloted aircraft that can use guided weapons on and off the battlefield.
The widespread use of drones in Iraq and Afghanistan by the United States to target and kill insurgents jump started a new chapter in the history of conflict. These high flying and remotely piloted aircraft could engage targets with impunity while the operators were safely working in a ground control station. Keeping the crews out of danger also made the drones politically cheap to use over dangerous skies.
Now more and more countries are gaining this military capability for their own purposes. “At the moment, we’ve seen over 100 states worldwide using military drones and that number is growing significantly” said Wim Zwijnenburg, Project leader, Humanitarian Disarmament at PAX. “We have over 20 states that are using armed drones in conflicts or outside of armed conflicts.”
Although larger and more complex drones, like the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper are not cheap to develop or operate, smaller drones are becoming more ubiquitous in conflict zones. Limiting the proliferation of these smaller drones, and the ability to weaponize them, is a regulatory nightmare for government agencies around the world.
“Drones are just model airplanes with great sensors on them. And all of these are dual use and have been used in the civilian realm” said Ulrike Franke, a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “And in fact, drones have risen enormously in the civilian realm over the last five to 10 years. And so controlling their export is really difficult.”
Miles below the Earth’s surface, there’s enough thermal energy to power all of humanity for the foreseeable future. It’s called geothermal energy, and it’s poised to play an increasingly large role as a source of always available, renewable power. Now, there are a number of startups in the geothermal space, working to figure out how to access this heat in difficult to reach geographies, at a price point that makes sense. And it’s even gotten the attention of oil and gas industry giants, who are interested in greening their portfolios while sticking to their core competencies – extracting energy resources from deep within the Earth.
What does it mean to be Scottish? Since Brexit, people here at the northernmost end of the island of Great Britain have been asking this question with renewed vigour. Now, with the Scottish Parliament election approaching, many Scots see their future outside of the United Kingdom. So how do ordinary Scottish citizens see their homeland?
On her journey through Scotland, journalist Diana Zimmermann quickly learns that it is impossible to travel through the country these days without talking about Brexit. Geography and history have brought the Scots to a breaking point. Just ask Sophie Gault, a deer-hunter whose breath-taking workplace is in the heart of the Highlands, at the foot of Ben Alder. “Being Scottish is something I’m really proud of,” says Gault, adding that taking this job was the best decision she ever made.
“Being with nature and with wildlife, it makes you appreciate Scotland even more. There’s always that sense of community. And I’m very proud of our own Scottish humour.” What does fisherman Victor Laurenson, who had hoped Brexit would bring him better fishing conditions, think of his country now?
Janey Godley, a comedian from Glasgow, brings yet another perspective: In the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, she says, the English told the Scots to vote against independence so that Scotland could stay in the EU. “It’s basically like your Mum and Dad saying – look – if you go to bed early, when you wake up, you will have a pony. And you go to bed, you sleep early, you wake up and there’s just a cushion in the shape of a cat instead, and it’s not even a good cat.”
Neodymium is critical to making the wheels of a Tesla spin or creating sound in Apple’s Airpods, and China dominates the mining and processing of this rare-earth mineral. So the U.S. and its allies are building their own supply chain. Photo illustration: Clément Bürge/WSJ