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.
Startups, governments and nonprofits are racing to create so-called “vaccine passports,” or digital health passes aimed at helping people travel and safely move around in public. WSJ explains what it would take to get a global digital health pass system off the ground. Illustration: Zoë Soriano
Can a drug-detection dog beat Apple’s U1 chip? Attach a $29 Apple AirTag to your stuff and you can use your iPhone to locate it when it goes missing. WSJ’s Joanna Stern put the new gadget up against a drug-detection dog and other lost-item trackers, like the Tile Pro, in a series of indoor and outdoor challenges. Photo illustration: Laura Porat for The Wall Street Journal
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have been billed as a major disruptor to finance. But digital currencies issued by governments might be even more radical—they may even threaten the future of traditional banking.
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.”
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
The Seawolf class is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines (SSN) in service with the United States Navy. The class was the intended successor to the Los Angeles class, and design work began in 1983. A fleet of 29 submarines was to be built over a ten-year period, but that was reduced to 12 submarines.
Cornell is pioneering an innovative approach for the wireless charging of electric vehicles, forklifts and other mobile machines, while they remain in motion.
As the world’s largest aircraft carrier in the world’s dominant navy, the USS Gerald R. Ford is gargantuan. The aircraft carrier took eight years to build, several more years to test, and is large enough to tower over the biggest building in plenty of large towns. Named for the 38th President of the United States, the Gerald Ford is the lead ship of the US navy. It clocks in at over 1,000ft or nearly three American football fields in length, and nearly 250 feet high. Contained in that massive space, the aircraft carrier also has a whopping 25 decks. The massive ship, which can house over 4,500 people and carry over 75 aircraft, is powered by two nuclear reactors, and fully-loaded, weighs in at over 100,000 tonnes. That makes her the largest warship ever constructed. The total building cost is estimated at over 17 billion dollars, including 5 billion spent on research alone. After several delays it came in at 22% over the intended budget.