Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: Attempting to improve public transportation by integrating self-driving cars, lab grown organ transplants, a Cupertino hyperloop funded by Apple, Space X is almost ready to transport humans, and Virgin Galactic just test launched it’s space plane.
WAYMO WILL TEST IF SELF-DRIVING CARS COULD IMPROVE ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
The self-driving revolution is making a pit stop at the bus station before it hits your garage.
Last week, autonomous car developer Waymo (a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet) announced plans to conduct a two-stage experiment in Phoenix, AZ, by teaming up with Valley Metro, the region’s public transit system.
The goal: figure out if Waymo’s autonomous cars can increase access to public transportation. If people have a low-cost way to hail a ride to a bus/light rail station that is maybe a bit too far to walk to, they’ll be more inclined to use public transportation (rather than just making sure they have their own car to drive to work or wherever). Autonomous ride-hailing is expected to cost less than today’s ride hailing (since companies won’t have to pay a driver). This experiment could help us figure out if people might embrace the service.
WE CAN NOW SUCCESSFULLY TRANSPLANT LAB-GROWN LUNGS IN PIGS
In the U.S. alone, more than 1,400 people are waiting for a lung transplant — there simply aren’t enough donor lungs available to meet the need. Soon, though, patients might have a new source for brand new lungs: the lab.
On Wednesday, researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch published a new paper in the journal Science Translational Medicine. In it, they detail their latest milestone along the path to creating lab-grown lungs for humans: they can now successfully transplant these bioengineered lungs into pigs.
APPLE COULD FUND THE FIRST HYPERLOOP IN THE U.S.
Apple dodged a major financial bullet Tuesday night, and the reason may have something to do with the hyperloop, the futuristic mode of high-speed transportation first proposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Apple calls the city of Cupertino, CA home and, as the company has grown, so has its strain on the city. To address one of its major Apple-caused problems — transportation — the city proposed creating a “head tax” – a tax that would charge any Cupertino-based company with 100 or more employee a flat fee per employee.
If it had passed, Apple would have seen its tax bill jump from $17,000 to $9.4 million, according to a report from the Cupertino City Council – money Cupertino would have used to fund new transportation projects. But the Council voted down the tax on Tuesday, and it could be because they think a Cupertino hyperloop might be a better solution to their transportation woes.
SPACEX WILL BE READY TO TRANSPORT HUMANS NEXT APRIL
NASA wants to stop relying on Russia to get American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). And little by little, SpaceX is making that happen.
Back in 2014, the U.S. agreed to pay Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX $2.6 billion for a spacecraft that could carry the nation’s astronauts into orbit. It struck the same deal with Boeing, to the tune of $4.2 billion.
Since then, both projects have repeatedly delayed their launch dates. But we might finally have some that are definite (or, you know, as definite as these things can be).
VIRGIN GALACTIC JUST TEST LAUNCHED IT’S SPACESHIPTWO SPACE PLANE
At around 6 AM PT Thursday morning, Virgin Galactic, the aerospace company founded by Richard Branson, took to Twitter to casually announce plans to test one of its SpaceShipTwo (SS2) spaceplanes.
Roughly three-and-a-half hours later, the spaceplane, named the VSS Unity, took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. About 20 minutes after that, it touched down. No livestream, no press release — just a dozen or so Twitter posts, and it was over.