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: Uber rolls out its first self-driving cars, the world’s largest desalination plant ramps up production, a study concludes that GMOs are safe, VR use explodes in April, and HP offers a huge upgrade to 3D printing technology.
Uber to Begin Testing Autonomous Service
If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop — it’s a test car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh.
The car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, will be collecting mapping data as well as testing its self-driving capabilities. When it’s in self-driving mode, a trained driver will be in the driver’s seat monitoring operations. The Uber ATC car comes outfitted with a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.
Turning Salt Water into Drinking Water
The world’s largest modern seawater desalination plant, provides 20 percent of the water consumed by Israel’s households. It was built for around $500 million and uses a conventional desalination technology called reverse osmosis (RO). Thanks to a series of engineering and materials advances, however, it produces clean water from the sea cheaply and at a scale never before achieved.
The new plant in Israel, called Sorek, was finished in late 2013 but is just now ramping up to its full capacity; it will produce 627,000 cubic meters of water daily, providing evidence that such large desalination facilities are practical.
Metastudy Concludes GMOs Safe
Genetically engineered crops appear to be safe to eat and do not harm the environment, according to a comprehensive new analysis by the advisory group the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
However, it is somewhat unclear whether the technology has actually increased crop yields.
Gear VR Logs 1 Million Users in April
When it comes to sales figures, Oculus VR doesn’t play its cards close to its chest so much as press them against it and tape them down. This week, however, the company has given some indication of how Gear VR is performing.
At an Oculus Mobile update event in San Francisco, California, Max Cohen, Head of Mobile at Oculus, confirmed that its smartphone-based device, made in partnership with Samsung, saw one million users last month. That’s a hugely impressive number and comes as something of a surprise this early on into the kit’s life, having only launched for consumers back in November 2015. It’s not clear if this data includes the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S6 Innovator Editions that released beforehand, though it’s very like that it does.
HP’s New 3D Printer Can Print Electronics Inside Objects
HP has released two new 3D printer models, the Jet Fusion 3200 and Jet Fusion 4200—their first products on the market since the company entered the 3D printing arena in 2014. These high-end printers do not need lasers (like most rivals in their range) and will be available by the end of the year.
Not only will the printers be able to print at half the cost and ten times the speed of other printers on the market, but to top it all off, they can produce sharp, fine, high-definition edges.
Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!