• UK’s first hybrid commuter boat to ferry passengers along the Thames

    UK’s first hybrid commuter boat to ferry passengers along the Thames

    Uber launched its Boat service in August 2020, rebranding the existing Thames Clipper vessels, with departures from 23 piers across London from Putney in the west to Woolwich Royal Arsenal in the east. The firm has now built two new vessels at Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight designed to improve the sustainability credentials of its service. The hybrid design will allow the new vessels to operate solely on battery power while transporting commuters and sightseers through the capital’s Central Zone, which stretches between Tower and Battersea Power Station piers. The boats will recharge while using biofuelled power outside of central London. The technology is not reliant on shore-based charging; the new boats will use excess power from the biofuelled engines to re-charge their batteries…

  • Official Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics app rife with privacy risks

    Official Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics app rife with privacy risks

    In a detailed report compiled by Canada's Citizen Lab, researchers analysed the MY2022 app for potential privacy and security issues. The investigation found that the app collects a long list of sensitive information including device identifiers and hardware model, service provider information, a list of other apps installed on the device, WLAN status, real-time location, audio access, and access to storage, among other sensitive personal data. The collection of this data is disclosed in the app's privacy policy and is ostensibly required for Covid-19 protection controls, translation services, Weibo integration, and tourism recommendations and navigation. According to Citizen Lab, the app's encryption system also has a major flaw that potentially enables bad actors to access documents,…

  • FCA proposes crackdown on high-risk cryptocurrency investing

    FCA proposes crackdown on high-risk cryptocurrency investing

    The price of cryptocurrency started booming near the start of the Covid-19 pandemic leading many people to start investing in the highly volatile currencies. But the past year has seen wild fluctuations in the price of Bitcoin, which is the most sought-after cryptocurrency. In July the value of one Bitcoin fell as low as £21,000 before rising rapidly to a peak just under £50,000 by the beginning of November. Since then, its value has again plummeted by nearly 50 per cent to just £31,000. The FCA said it wanted to address concerns about the ease and speed with which people can make high-risk investments by proposing a significant strengthening of its rules on how high-risk financial products are marketed. Under newly proposed rules, it will ensure firms that approve and communicate financial…

  • Needle destruction system prevents accidental jabbing of healthcare workers

    Needle destruction system prevents accidental jabbing of healthcare workers

    A recent survey found that the vast majority (94 per cent) of practising surgeons in the UK have either been personally affected by a needlestick injury (NSI) or have seen a colleague experience one. The Royal College of Nursing also reported last year that the pressures of the pandemic and lack of training accounted for a 50 per cent rise in sharps injuries. While the risk of infection following an NSI is low, the risks of contaminating HIV, hepatitis or another bloodborne illness are still concerning. To tackle the issue, UK firm NeedleSmart has designed an end-to-end vaccination and safe needle destruction system aimed at reducing the 100,000 NSIs experienced by NHS workers in the UK each year. As well as destroying the hypodermic needle, it also provides a full audit trail of each…

  • How dinosaur fossil analysis could address modern day challenges

    How dinosaur fossil analysis could address modern day challenges

    Last October, the UN released a promo video, during which an animated dinosaur walks into the UN General Assembly and warns actors posing as delegates that humans will go extinct if we don’t address the climate crisis. Shock-tactic publicity stunt, it may have been, but according to palaeontologist Phil Manning from Manchester University, real dinosaurs, through the fossils they’ve left behind, actually have something to tell us about how to live more sustainably – if we ask the right questions. “We know that studying the fossil record can help quantify how living things interact with their environment,” he says. “But what if we could reverse-engineer enough information from these fossils to help us devise more sustainable solutions for current problems?” Manning is known for using high…

  • ‘You’ve got criminals thinking this is an easy way to launder money’

    ‘You’ve got criminals thinking this is an easy way to launder money’

    “There were a lot of very disappointed online retail clients over Christmas,” says Matt Gracey-McMinn. “They were essentially victims of bot attacks.” Shoppers hoping to buy electronic goods over the internet experienced premium stock scarcity on legitimate vendor sites and were forced to redirect their trade to re-seller sites. This is where they were exposed to extortionate price uplifts that exploited the pre-Christmas demand increase. None of this is necessarily illegal, says the head of Threat Research at Manchester-based Netacea, but the power of scalper bots (that digitally jump the customer queue to snap up bulk stock of in-demand products) is now becoming a tool for the murky world of organised crime. “It’s got to the point where the US government is exploring a bill to legislate…

  • London needs to charge drivers by the mile to cut emissions, says mayor

    London needs to charge drivers by the mile to cut emissions, says mayor

    A new 'net zero by 2030' report, published today by consultancy Element Energy and commissioned by the Mayor of London, sets out the scale of the action required to move London towards a greener future and net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The report specifies the key actions urgently required in order to reduce air pollution, tackle the climate emergency and cut congestion in the capital city to create a healthier city fit for the future. According to the report's findings, between 2000 and 2018, London achieved a 57 per cent reduction in workplace greenhouse gas emissions, a 40 per cent reduction in emissions from homes, but just a 7 per cent reduction in emissions from transport. The research commissioned by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, found that at least a 27 per cent reduction in London…

  • Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard in $68.7bn deal

    Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard in $68.7bn deal

    Activision is responsible for publishing several of gaming’s largest franchises including 'Call of Duty', 'Warcraft', 'Destiny' and even the popular mobile game 'Candy Crush'. As well as PC gaming and mobile, the acquisition will help Microsoft’s Xbox cement its foothold in the console market, particularly with its Game Pass service which has been dubbed the 'Netflix of gaming'. The service currently has 25 million subscribers and Microsoft has major ambitions for further expansion. It said many of Activision Blizzard’s games will come to the service now that the takeover has been announced. Microsoft is paying $95 a share in the deal - a 45 per cent premium on Activision Blizzard’s closing value at the end of the last week. The company has nearly 10,000 employees, with studios around…

    E&T Magazine
  • Not just another brick in the wall

    Not just another brick in the wall

    Solar panels are a common sight on rooftops the world over, but what about the vertical façades of offices, apartment blocks and houses, which offer a vast and, as yet, largely untapped resource for power generation, particularly in cities where high rises dominate? Research teams and tech innovators are aware of the potential and working to develop a range of brick- and block-based products that combine structural strength with electricity generation, electricity storage and even wastewater processing. For the first time in hundreds of years, walls could gain new intrinsic functionality. In the following panels, we highlight four of the most promising technologies being put through their paces in the lab. The ability to scale-up power generation across a much larger surface area than a…

  • Tree-planting drones could help restore the world’s forests

    Tree-planting drones could help restore the world’s forests

    Forestry engineers have mastered the job of harvesting commercial forests efficiently, but replanting those forests or establishing new ones is still largely people-powered, using a spade and a bag of seedlings. Using drones to deliver seed packages may change all that and become a standard tool in the forester’s toolkit, alleviating the perennial shortage of labour for the back-breaking job of manually planting trees in often difficult and remote terrain. Using drones to plant seeds could help to cool the planet by rapidly establishing new forests, replanting timber-harvested areas, reseeding in fire-devastated zones more quickly, and accessing difficult-to-reach areas. Several young start-ups have developed drones to rapidly plant seeds from the sky, many claiming headline-grabbing promises…

  • Zombie nation: the challenge to tackle the UK’s productivity slump

    Zombie nation: the challenge to tackle the UK’s productivity slump

    Things seemed to be going so well. From the mid-1990s, productivity improved by a third for two decades helped by automation and computerisation, figures produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. Even the bursting of the dot-com bubble was little more than a blip on the graph. Then the 2007 credit crunch clamped down on investment plans as the world’s economy hurtled into the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008. As companies struggled to make sales in 2009, the common productivity measurements of output per hour and output per worker both fell by 5 per cent. But the fear began to dissipate, helped along by cheap lending supported by central banks around the globe. The central bank governors expected some and ideally most of this easy money to find its way to companies that…

    E&T Magazine
  • Humans have now breached ‘safe planetary boundary’ for pollutants

    Humans have now breached ‘safe planetary boundary’ for pollutants

    There are an estimated 350,000 different types of manufactured chemicals on the global market including plastics, pesticides, industrial chemicals, chemicals in consumer products, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Plastic production alone is estimated to have increased by 79 per cent between 2000 and 2015. These are all wholly novel entities, created by human activities with largely unknown effects on the Earth system. Significant volumes of these novel entities enter the environment each year.  A team including researchers from Stockholm and Gothenburg Universities have now assessed the impact that the cocktail of synthetic chemicals and other “novel entities” flooding the environment have on the stability of the Earth’s systems. “There has been a 50-fold increase in the production…

  • Aldi opens first checkout-free supermarket for public testing

    Aldi opens first checkout-free supermarket for public testing

    The Aldi Shop&Go concept store in Greenwich, south-east London, opened at 7am this morning for public testing, having been tested by Aldi colleagues in recent months. The German discount supermarket’s new shop will also allow customers to buy alcohol, using facial age-estimation technology to check whether they appear to be over the age of 25. The move follows in the footsteps of such rivals as Amazon and Tesco, who have both opened similar checkout-free stores. Aldi staff will use a series of high-tech cameras to follow customers as they do their shopping and then bill them when they leave. Aldi has been trialling the store with employees over the past few months. Customers must first register with Aldi’s Shop&Go app, which will then allow them to enter the store, pick up their items…

    E&T Magazine
  • UK start-up attracts $200m ahead of driverless delivery trials for Asda and Ocado

    UK start-up attracts $200m ahead of driverless delivery trials for Asda and Ocado

    Wayve's AV2.0 technology, which has been designed around a “camera-first sensing suite”, has been designed to adapt depending on the needs of the fleet operator. It uses machine learning to help it quickly adapt to new cities and environments as well as different vehicle types by making use of “petabyte-scale” driving data harvested from its partner fleets. Wayve said their approach allows it to more easily scale for commercial deployments in different cities when compared to other autonomous systems which typically rely on an expensive and complex array of sensors and are operationally limited by HD maps and rules-based control strategies. Image credit: Wayve Last year, the firm signed deals with Ocado and Asda to start testing deliveries which will feature…

  • Personal chips get under your skin

    Personal chips get under your skin

    In most respects it’s an everyday picture. A waiter stands by a young couple in a coffee bar with a handheld terminal, ready to take a routine digital payment. The man raises his wrist to the machine. But he’s not wearing a smartwatch or offering a contactless card. He’s completing the transaction using a microchip that sits permanently beneath the skin on his hand. “I believe that one day implants will be as popular as payment cards,” says Wojciech Paprota, founder of London-based tech start-up Walletmor, who claims to have created the world’s first microchip implant for contactless payments. For the man buying the coffee, the benefits of such technology are seemingly limitless. “Unlike a standard payment card,” says Paprota, “it cannot end up in the wrong hands. It will not fall out of…

  • Sussex Local Network Event Recordings 2021/22

    Sussex Local Network Event Recordings 2021/22

    Date of Talk Title of Talk Thumbnail Description Video Recording Tuesday 26th October 2021 How to use light to make aircraft lighter A talk by Dr Christopher Holmes, Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton. Next generation aircraft shall use more optical fibre technology in order to reduce an aircraft’s total weight. This weight saving shall make flight more efficient and so environmentally greener. This talk discusses the research being conducted at the University of Southampton including advances in new types of optical fibre for aerospace. https://youtu.be/-8-1ocjF8eo Tuesday 2nd November 2021 6G Wireless: A New Strategic Direction An interesting talk on 6G Wireless by Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli FREng, Director of…

    David James
  • Aircraft noise pollution could be dampened with design based on owl wings

    Aircraft noise pollution could be dampened with design based on owl wings

    'Trailing-edge noise' is the dominant source of sound from aeronautical and turbine engines like those in aeroplanes, drones, and wind turbines. Researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China used the characteristics of owl wings to inform aerofoil designs that help to significantly reduce the trailing-edge noise. “Nocturnal owls produce about 18 decibels less noise than other birds at similar flight speeds due to their unique wing configuration,” said study author Xiaomin Liu. “Moreover, when the owl catches prey, the shape of the wings is also constantly changing, so the study of the wing edge configuration during owl flight is of great significance.” Trailing-edge noise is generated when airflow passes along the back of an aerofoil. The flow forms a turbulent layer of air along…

  • Gallery: the £80,000 electric Mini

    Gallery: the £80,000 electric Mini

    Simon Benton, from Suffolk, has spent tens of thousands of pounds to renovate his late mother’s classic Austin 850, adding a twist by fitting an electric 300hp Tesla engine to return it to pristine condition. Image credit: , The car – nicknamed ‘Obi’ by the family – failed an MOT test in the 1990s and was put away at the back of the garage, until Benton found it years later. Image credit: , Experts at Bridge Classic Cars, near Woodbridge in Suffolk, worked on the vehicle, before it went to Wales for its electric conversion. Image credit: , According to ITV News, the only surviving original features are its roof and ashtrays. Image credit: , The electric conversion has apparently…

  • Number of UK households in fuel poverty expected to triple in April

    Number of UK households in fuel poverty expected to triple in April

    Gas prices surged in September due to a number of factors including high global demand, a cold winter last year and tighter gas supplies from Russia. The new report finds that the number of families who are expected to have to spend at least 10 per cent of their family budgets on energy bills will treble overnight to 6.3 million households when the new cap is introduced on 1 April. The proportion of English households defined as living in ‘fuel stress’ is currently 9 per cent but this could leap to 27 per cent when the price cap rises by more than 50 per cent this April to around £2,000 per year. The energy regulator, Ofgem, will announce the new price cap level on 7 February. The think tank estimates that the government will need to spend more than £7bn in 2022 to offset the effect of…

    E&T Magazine
  • View from Brussels: Satellite cherry-pickers

    View from Brussels: Satellite cherry-pickers

    Brexit meant an end to the UK’s involvement in several of the EU’s flagship programmes, including the world-leading Galileo network and the Erasmus+ student exchange scheme, while its participation in the Horizon Europe research programme is still in doubt. The UK’s initial deal with the EU included membership of schemes like Horizon and the Earth-observing Copernicus network, but an impasse over implementing the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol means there is now a major delay. During those seemingly never-ending Brexit negotiations that followed the 2016 Brexit vote and which lasted almost all the way up to the 2020 deadline, membership of many of those programmes was on the table, should the UK have agreed to certain criteria. Full participation in Galileo, however, was never…

  • Scotland announces 17 offshore wind projects with 25GW generating capacity

    Scotland announces 17 offshore wind projects with 25GW generating capacity

    Out of a total 74 applications, Crown Estate Scotland chose the best 17, which have been offered the option of developing wind facilities on specific areas of the seabed. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said she welcomed the “truly historic” opportunity for Scotland’s net zero economy, which is expected to secure at least £1bn in supply chain investment for every 1GW of capacity proposed. They will also generate around £700m in revenue for the Scottish Government and represent the world’s first commercial- scale opportunity for floating offshore wind. The area of seabed covered by the 17 projects is just over 7,000km 2 , with the largest project from Scottish Power Renewables generating 3,000MW followed closely by BP’s Alternative Energy Investments, which will generate just under that…

  • Power dressing: exoskeletons on the job

    Power dressing: exoskeletons on the job

    More than 50 years ago, General Electric engineer and robotics pioneer Ralph Mosher presented a ground-breaking technical paper at the 1967 Automotive Engineering Congress in Detroit, USA, outlining his vision for the use and development of exoskeletons. “Man and machine can be combined into an intimate, symbiotic unit that will perform essentially as one wedded system,” he wrote. “The adaptive, reflex control of man can be transmitted directly to a mechanism so that the mechanism responds as though it were a natural extension of the man. ...Moreover, environments that are normally hostile to a human do not affect the machine.” Back then, this was a lofty vision, but one that Mosher worked hard at realising. “Mosher was one of the earliest pioneers of exoskeletons, working alongside the…

  • Trains given ability to detect leaves on the line and other ‘hazards’

    Trains given ability to detect leaves on the line and other ‘hazards’

    Low adhesion is caused by the contamination of railways lines by biological, chemical and physical factors, some of which cannot be easily monitored or controlled. The estimated overall cost of low adhesion to the UK railway industry is estimated at £350m each year, according to the Rail Safety and Standards Board. A minimum level of adhesion is essential for reliable braking and traction performance, especially for maintaining safety and limiting delays. Changes in adhesion can be very localised, unpredictable and transient. Poor adhesion experienced by one train may not affect following trains at the same location. The newly developed system will detect low adhesion hot spots in real-time and create an up-to-date map of the UK’s network which shows where any hazards might be. The hope…

  • Is hyperautomation worth the hype?

    Is hyperautomation worth the hype?

    Over the course of the last few years, automation has played an increasing role in business. Overall spending on the technology has already quadrupled since 2018, according to KPMG, and is expected to reach $232bn by 2025, compared to an estimated $41.3bn today. It’s easy to see why. KPMG says organisations that can power up their automation efforts can radically improve operations, transform their business models, and become long-term winners. In fact, an overwhelming majority (92 per cent) of business leaders agree that process automation is key for them to survive and flourish – and say it is vital for a modern workplace. “Traditional automation technologies have helped industrial companies achieve huge progress in becoming safer and more efficient,” says Dan Farrell, who heads Accenture…