Technology Tuesday: June 21
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: A 3D printed autonomous bus, the world’s first artificial kidney, federal regulations for autonomous vehicles, a genetically engineered HIV vaccine to begin human trials, and process for turning plastic waste into liquid fuel.
Olli, a 3D Printed Autonomous Bus, Can Have Conversations with its Passengers
Local Motors, the Arizona-based automaker that crowdsources vehicle design, has introduced a 3D-printed, autonomous, electric shuttle bus that is partially recyclable called Olli. Local Motors says that it’s the first vehicle to use IBM Watson’s car-focused cognitive learning platform, Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive.
It’s a boxy, far-out concept that may be the first of its kind, but that’s the point for a company that isn’t focused only on making vehicles — it’s about remaking the car manufacturing business. If all goes according to plan, Olli will be giving autonomous rides at the company’s introductory event on the new National Harbor campus today. The facility, located less than 10 miles from Washington, DC, is part 3D printing demo lab and part inventor playroom, including a new STEM program for kids that demonstrates recycling of printed cars. Local Motors also plans to open new facilities in Knoxville and Berlin this year.
Wearable Artificial Kidney Completes First Clinical Trial
The results of a clinical trial have shown that a wearable artificial kidney may be the new form of dialysis. The official and complete study was published on June 2nd in JCI Insights. This new technology may be able to completely replace current hemodialysis for people who have reached the end stages of kidney disease.
Current treatments typically are necessary three times a week, being hooked up to a stationary machine that does not allow patients to walk around while the machine is working. A wearable device would allow patients to become mobile and offer much longer and more frequent sessions without all the hassle.
Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles Expected in July
National Highway Traffic Safety (NTHSA) administrator Mark Rosekind said today that the US needs to be more nimble in its legislation for self-driving cars.
“[A slow-moving regulatory climate] will not work for this area,” Rosekind said. “We will have something different in July.”
The technology doesn’t have to be perfect, Rosekind suggested. Instead, he pushed for current tech to be twice as good as human drivers, which it already seems to be. Current US highway deaths are equal to “a 747 crashing every week for a year… it’s unacceptable,” he said.
HIV Vaccine Will Begin Human Trials Next Summer
A vaccine for HIV developed by Oregon Health Sciences University in collaboration with the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, is moving toward clinical trials. The vaccine uses another virus, cytomegalovirus, or CMV, as a “backbone” to carry small pieces of HIV into the body and arm the immune system.
OHSU hopes to enroll the first volunteers in a Phase 1 trial in the summer of 2017. The trial will look only at the safety of the vaccine, and whether it provokes an immune response in people.
Transforming Plastic Trash into Liquid Fuel
While several companies and institutions have been working at reducing the world’s plastic waste, they are hampered by the lack of means to dispose of them. The most common plastic, polyethylene, happens to also be the hardest to break down. But a solution seems at hand.
A team of Chinese chemists has developed a method for degrading polyethylene and turning it into a liquid fuel.
Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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