The manufacture, dissemination and use of anti-personnel mines were effectively banned in the late 1990s when 133 nations signed the Ottawa Treaty. But despite that international agreement, an estimated 100 million mines remain buried beneath former war zones where they kill or maim an average of 10 people per day. Using conventional methods -- whether that involves detector animals, human deminers or armored vehicles -- we'd need more than millennium to deactivate them all. The creators of this mine-hunting UAV, however, figure they can get it done in a little over a decade.
It's called the Mine Kafon Drone (MKD) and its creators have just launched a Kickstarter campaign for its production. The MKD is a hexcopter with three interchangeable arms: a high resolution camera, a metal detector and a robotic arm. The drone first flies over the field and uses its camera to both create a 3D aerial map and mark potentially dangerous areas with GPS waypoints. Then, using its metal detector attachment, the MKD rescans the field looking for actual mines. It uses the 3D map it made in the previous step to keep the detector just 4 cm from the ground as it flies by. Any mines that it finds are geotagged for removal. To actually do that, the MKD attaches its gripper arm to drop a small, timed detonator atop the mine. Once the drone is safely out of range, the detonator explodes, setting off the mine underneath. Overall, the MKD's creators estimate that this process can clear a minefield up to 20 times faster -- and for 200 times less cost -- than conventional methods.
The MKD team is trying to raise €90,000 to get the project going. A €17 donation will allow you to sponsor 7,500 square meter of mine field mapping. €75 earns you a miniature replica of the drone. €5,000 will get you an MKD of your very own, complete with robo-arm. That's not a bad deal given that the final version of the drone is expected to retail for 4 times that amount -- a whopping €20,000. Should the campaign reach its funding goal, MKDs could begin demining the world's war zones as early as next June.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been teasing the world for a few weeks now about an update to what he's been calling Tesla's "top secret master plan" (TSMP).
At least, he's been calling it that since the reveal of the Model 3 mass-market vehicle earlier this year.
The plan summarizes Musk's vision of accelerating humanity's exit from the fossil-fuel era, and it involves all of his companies: Tesla for all-electric car and energy storage, Solar City — he's the chairman, but his cousins founded the startup — for easy and inexpensive solar-panel installation, and SpaceX to provide us with a way to "back up" our threatened biosphere by colonizing the rest of the solar system, starting with Mars.
Over the past few days, he's been tweeting that he's holed himself up while listening to the soundtrack to the film "Gatsby," even pulling an all-nighter to finish the plan. He now says that Tesla will publish it at 5 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Wednesday.
Will be working at Tesla on Autopilot & Model 3 today, then aiming to pull an all-nighter and complete the master product plan
We'll cover that event when it happens, but until then, the 2.0 version of the TSMP could be one of two things:
1. A laying out of all the new vehicle models that Tesla will produce using the Model 3 platform
The Model 3 isn't a single car. It's a platform upon which numerous types of vehicles can be built. This is a common practice in the auto industry, but a carmaker does need to have a lineup beyond the two vehicles that Tesla is selling — the Model S sedan and the Model X crossover utility vehicle (CUV) — to make it effective.
At the Model 3 reveal, we saw a four-door smaller than the Model S. What we could get on Wednesday night is a lineup that also features a sporty coupe, a compact CUV, and possibly even a pickup truck. Enthusiasts will also hope for a new Roadster.
We could also get some color on updates to the Model S, pricing for the Model X, forthcoming software updates and new features, the ongoing development of Tesla's charging network, and some thoughts on the investigation of a fatal Autopilot crash in Florida in May.
2. An explanation of how Tesla and Solar City will be fully integrated
Tesla wants to buy Solar City. Naysayers argue that this is a backdoor bailout because Solar City has been struggling and Musk owns about a fifth of the company. All Tesla will get in the merger is $3.2 billion in additional debt and a giant speed-brake on its ability to deliver 500,000 vehicles annually by 2018.
Musk maintains that putting Tesla — which is now a car company and an energy-storage company — together with Solar City will create an integrated enterprise that can more effectively pursue the TSMP agenda. In fact, the TSMP will be turbocharged by the acquisition.
Those are my bets, and I'm leaning toward the first because Musk is calling this a "product plan" in his tweets.
But we could also see Musk roll out a shared-mobility platform along the lines of Uber or the General Motors-Lyft partnership, leveraging Tesla's position as the world's most successful electric automaker and as the purveyor of the controversial but quite advanced Autopilot semi-self-driving technology.
BT scrambles to fix second major outage on its network
BT customers are experiencing outages for a second day in a row. The firm put an update on its status page acknowledging the problems, but did not give a specific reason for the fault, instead listing potential causes.
"A small number of our customers in the areas shown below may experience a loss of telephone and/or broadband services. We hope to have service restored as quickly as possible and apologise for any inconvenience this may be causing," it said.
"Services can be affected by a variety of reasons such as damage caused by third parties or cable theft."
Several areas in London are affected, along with York, Nantwich and Totnes among others.
The outages are the second day in a row that customers have had to contend with poor to non-existent services.
BT released a statement on Wednesday blaming "power issues" for the outage. "We're sorry that some BT and Plusnet customers are experiencing problems accessing some internet services this morning," said the firm.
"This is due to power issues at one of our internet peering partners' sites in London. Engineers are working to fix things as fast as possible."
Release date for the new A10-powered iPhone may have been revealed
The iPhone 7 release is just over a month away and rumours about the new device's features are coming thick and fast.
We've compiled everything we know so far about the forthcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus into one handy article.
Prominent tipster Evleaks believes the next iPhone will be released the week beginning 12 September 2016. Apple is nothing if not predictable when it comes to release dates, and its hardware releases usually fall on a Friday. If this is the case we should be able to get our hands on it come 16 September.
Apple won't buck the trend and make the next iPhone any cheaper than the last. We expect the iPhone 7 32GB model to cost £539 (in place of the current iPhone 6S), rising to £619 and £699 for the 64GB and 128GB variants.
Specs and rumours Pokémon Go fans should join the hunt for the elusive black and blue iPhone 7. New pictures have emerged of the iPhone 7 in every colour but the new ones - that means Silver, Space Grey, Gold and Rose Gold. The photo shows dummy units and is believed to have originated from a third-party company that builds iPhone accessories.
It has long been assumed that the Apple A10 processor will feature in the upcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Benchmark scores for the processor have now appeared on Geekbench and show that the new chip will offer a 20 per cent performance boost over the A9.
Although impressive, the A9 saw a 50 per cent bump over the A8 so it appears things have been dialled down this time. The resulting scores put it more on a par with the A9X chip in the iPad Pro.
Elsewhere, a fresh leak courtesy of Weibo has shone a light on the larger iPhone 7 Plus, along with some of the purported changes coming to the device.
The Plus is believed to have a 5.5in frame and, in the new images, commentators have pointed out the addition of a Smart Connector, as well as a new capacitive Home Button.
A touch-sensitive Home button has long been on the cards, but these new images don't corroborate previous rumours that the newly designed button will sit flush with the chassis. Instead, there appears to be an outline that draws a boundary around the pressable area.
To add further mystery, the mute switch (something of an iPhone staple) appears to have disappeared.
An image of the back of the phone shows the long-rumoured dual camera setup, suggesting that the iPhone 7 Plus at least will introduce this new hardware.
A mere few days before, NowhereElse.fr provided us with the first clear picture of Apple's next smartphone.
The picture is believed to show us the smaller of the two new devices, complete with a larger camera, clean design and its antenna lines clearly visible.
According to supply chain research, analysts believe that Apple will drop the 16GB storage option and instead offer a larger 32GB by default. Analysts from IHS boast a decent track record in terms of accurate Apple rumours, and let's not forget that it was supply chain sources that first hinted at a smaller 4in iPhone. That device would later break ground as the iPhone SE.
The base 16GB has endured since the iPhone's inception in 2008.
A further leak comes courtesy of the infamous Twitter personality known as The Malignant who reposted an image supposedly from an internal meeting held with Foxconn. If true the next iPhone could very well have an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, as well as support for wireless charging.
An image has also appeared on China's Weibo social network purporting to show the new device in Rose Gold. If true it points to the phone lacking the much rumoured dual rear camera.
Previous rumours suggested that the iPhone 7 will have an improved camera. The above image, via 9to5Mac.com, shows the back of the device with a camera lens in the top left that's notably larger than on the iPhone 6S.
This suggests that it will be a notable improvement on the 12MP lens. However, the fact that it still protrudes from the back of the phone may not please everyone, as this is one element of the iPhone design that many dislike.
It's not clear from the image whether the device will contain dual-camera technology, although prior rumours have said it will, also requiring a hefty 3GB of RAM to power the function, according to widespread rumours.
Another notable potential feature was raised by the above image from Bastille Postthat raised questions about the inclusion of Apple's Smart Connector (indicated here by the three dots). The Connector was first seen on the iPad Pro and will be used to provide keyboard support if the latest rumours are to be believed.
We can expect two new iPhone models: the 4.7in iPhone 7 and the 5.5in iPhone 7 Plus.Macworld reckons that both handsets will see a substantial redesign after the near identical iPhone 6S Plus.
Handsets from other manufacturers have screen resolutions that have stayed the same between generations (most recently with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge) and Apple is likely to stick with the resolution found on the 6S and 6S Plus.
Forums in China are ablaze with images taken from a video that appears to show a longer, larger camera slot. The video, courtesy of Unbox Therapy, explores a couple of 'leaked' third-party cases designed to fit the iPhone 7 and iPhone SE.
Previous rumours suggested that Apple will introduce a dual-lens setup on the iPhone 7 Plus. This could still be the case, but going on the design shown in this video,MacRumors claimed that it is "more likely designed for a larger single-lens camera than a dual-lens camera".
The earlier video from Unbox Therapy seemed to corroborate the removal of the headphone jack and also suggested that the Lightning cable will provide music and charging functionality.
However, new rumours suggest that the headphone jack will be in the device, contradicting earlier reports.
Japanese site Mac Otakara believes that the new handset will use Bluetooth-enabled EarPods that will share a similar charging function with the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro. Mac Otakara denied suggestions that the iPhone 7 will use dual stereo speakers.
It is widely assumed that the A10 chip will power the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. However, an earthquake in Taiwan earlier this year cast doubt over the chip manufacturer's ability to produce enough. Digitimes reported that the factory owned by TSMC is ramping up production to meet Apple's demands.
In the iPhone 7 Plus rumour camp, Italy's HDblog has published pictures purporting to show a high-capacity 256GB SanDisk NAND flash memory chip. SanDisk flash memory has been used in the iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but a 256GB chip would be the first in iPhone history.
A report in China's Commercial Times claimed that the iPhone 7 could be built from something different entirely, shunning the traditional metal body in favour of a new "compound material". The mystery material will provide the iPhone 7 with a water-resistant finish and do away with the antenna lines that span the phone's rear.
Business Korea reported that the new phones might offer wireless charging using a ceramic material.
Apple delivers increased power and battery efficiency with every iteration of iOS, and we expect iOS 10 to be no different.
The handsets will incorporate the 3D Touch technology that made its debut on the iPhone 6S. This leads us to wonder whether Apple could do away with the Home button for good.
When it comes to colour options we can expect the Silver, Gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold offered with the iPhone 6S.
Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is attempting to overturn parts of US copyright law which, it says, are unconstitutional.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to bypass software that prevents the copying of protected work in many situations.
But the EFF says that violates the right to freedom of expression by limiting what people can do with things they have purchased.
It is now suing the US government.
What is the DMCA?
The DMCA was introduced in 1998, designed to address copyright for media such as film, music and photography in the digital age.
Section 1201 of the law makes it illegal to circumvent "access controls" known as digital rights management (DRM) - a provision designed to stop people doing things such as copying films from a DVD and sharing them on the internet.
But it has wider-reaching consequences, restricting people from doing things such as:
modifying a DVD player so that it will play discs bought anywhere in the world, rather than just the local region
deconstructing a medical device's software to look for vulnerabilities to report to the manufacturer
The maximum penalties for violating the law are a $500,000 fine or a five-year prison sentence.
What does the lawsuit say?
Image captionThe DMCA is designed to deter copyright theft
Matthew Green, a computer researcher, could be punished for investigating software vulnerabilities if he had to bypass a copy protection system to do so.
"Despite this work being vital for all of our safety, Green had to seek an exemption from the Library of Congress last year for his security research," said the EFF.
Andrew Huang, an inventor, has designed software that lets people easily record and manipulate online video.
"Those products would enable people to make innovative uses of their paid video content, such as captioning a presidential debate with a running Twitter comment field," said the EFF. "But using or offering this technology could run afoul of Section 1201."
Are there exemptions?
Every few years, the Librarian of Congress grants some exemptions to Section 1201.
Some of the current exemptions allow people to:
modify or "jailbreak" mobile phone software to allow unauthorised apps to run
take film clips from a DVD to use in an otherwise legal way, such as producing a review or criticism
However, the exemptions are temporary and are not always renewed.
The EFF said: "The law imposes a legal cloud over our rights to tinker with or repair the devices we own, to convert videos so that they can play on multiple platforms, remix a video, or conduct independent security research that would reveal dangerous security flaws in our computers, cars, and medical devices."
It's believed the legal action could go on for years before reaching a conclusion.
Image captionOf course - here is a picture of people eating an ice cream - mmmm ice cream
A white cotton top and shorts is obviously the best thing to wear, right? Sort of.
Natural fabrics like linen and cotton absorb sweat and allow it to breathe. They're much better than man-made fibres like polyester, which can trap the moisture against your skin, leaving you hot and uncomfortable.
White is good if you're out in direct sunlight a lot - it will reflect the heat better than any other colour. But if you're spending time in the shade, black is a more effective colour to wear as it radiates out heat into your environment, cooling you down.
Drinking hot drinks actually lowers your body temperature
Image captionAnother mandatory photograph of people sunbathing
Staying hydrated is key. According to the NHS, if you don't drink lots of water and beverages like fruit juice, you can start to become unwell, with symptoms of headache and tiredness. It can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which in the worst cases can be fatal.
But what about hot drinks? Can they help cool you down? Well, it comes back to sweat again.
The thinking is, drinking a hot drink raises your body temperature, causing you to sweat. Sweating cools you down because as the moisture evaporates it takes away some of the heat of your body.
But sweating also means that you are losing liquid from your body, meaning you need to take on more to stay hydrated.
Keep the curtains closed - block out the sun
Image captionYeah, you guessed it, teenagers playing in a fountain
This is another one where there is no precise answer.
If you have thick dark curtains then keep them open, otherwise the fabric can keep the heat trapped in the room.
Lighter curtains can help reflect the sun's rays back out of the room, so keep them closed.
Putting something reflective on the outside of the glass can bounce the heat away, keeping the room cool - like the screens that go on the windshield of your car.
I never shut the windows during summer - you need to circulate the air
Image captionJust in case you forgot, it's hot right now, really hot, just like the desert
Sorry - this is another one where there is no hard and fast rule. And you should always consider home security and safety when it comes to leaving windows and doors open.
If the room you are in is actually cooler than the temperature outside then keep the windows closed, otherwise all you are doing is letting hot air in.
But if the room is warmer - and this is much more likely to be the case at night - then opening the windows will help cool your home down.
For better or worse, Pokemon Go has become an enormous international phenomenon in a very short time.
The augmented reality game is causing many players to venture out to places they would not normally go in search of their onscreen prey. But it's also making some non-believers wish they could escape to another planet to get away from all the hype.
Players in the US, Australia and Germany have already been making the most of their free time and now more gamers can get involved following its UK release.
Many of them have been using the hashtag #PokemonGoMadeMe to reveal where the quest to populate their Pokedex has taken them.
But others sigh that if so many grown adults are spending so much time running around with their phones chasing Pidgies, Squirtles and Weedles, then human civilisation may well have peaked.
Even some enthusiasts themselves admit they have lost track of everything else. Jobs are at risk.
As are relationships.
There's a sense that some important things are being left to slide.
Another unanticipated consequence of the game's popularity is that there has been a spike in searches for kilometre to mile conversions in the wake of the game's success, according to Google Trends. Units are measured in kilometres, which presents a challenge for those not raised in a metric world with no in-game setting which allows users to change measurements.
One thing looks certain for the time being: people can't get enough of Pikachu and friends - even if their phones can.
News that Cambridge technology darling ARM is being bought by a Japanese corporate for somewhere around £25bn leaves us with precious few businesses which have the potential to bully the likes of Apple, Amazon and Alphabet.
Most of us have ARM hardware in our pockets or bags
For a long time, US corporates with deep pockets and big ambitions have been pretty adept at hoovering up British entrepreneurial talent – either as a way of removing competition or effectively buying innovation off the shelf.
It’s commendable that a UK-based company has been sold for billions rather than millions, and ARM has made incredible progress in becoming the de-facto microchip choice for mobile phone makers globally, but it now joins the likes of fellow Cambridge enterprise Autonomy in becoming a “what if”.
What if ARM hadn’t signed on the dotted line with Softbank? Could it have gone on to diversify into new areas, close game-changing deals itself and become a bulging corporate worth more than £100bn. We'll never really know now – even if the company is not re-shored to Asia.
ARM’s history dates back to 1990, when it was set up as a joint venture between Apple, Acorn Computers and VLSI Technology. It then went on to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 1990 – becoming a member of the FTSE 100 a year later. In 2008, the business made history by shipping its 10bnth processor chip.
It’s a tour de force when it comes to homegrown talent, showcasing just what has come to exemplify the area in and around Cambridge – what has become know as “Silicon Fen”.
Its other Silicon Fen trailblazer, Autonomy, caused shockwaves in the market when it was bought by Hewlett-Packard for around £8bn in 2011. That deal has since gone down in history as one of the most poisonous in history – with Hewlett-Packard claiming that bosses at Autonomy over-inflated revenues to drive up the sale price.
So what do the experts thing? John Haynes, head of research at Investec Wealth & Investment, has commented: “The announcement of an agreed bid for ARM by Softbank of Japan is the clearest illustration possible of the consequences of the current global currency volatility. Assuming the bid price, Softbank is paying over 25 per cent less in yen terms compared to over a year ago to acquire this crown jewel of UK, and indeed global, intellectual property."
Dan Ridsdale, analyst at Edison Investment Research, added to this by saying: "An increase in inbound M&A was one of the obvious consequences of Brexit and weakened sterling, but few expected it to manifest itself so quickly or at so large a scale."
David Blacher, head of technology, media and telecommunications at business advisers RSM, was more chipper, and concluded: "There may be some shock in some quarters about the loss of ARM’s independence, and dismay that the UK is failing to establish its own tech giants to rival the likes of Google and Apple, but the mood music from the acquirer suggests they are committed to growing the UK business, and this could be good news for the wider UK tech scene in the longer term."
It's perhaps apt that one of ARM's early driving forces, Herman Hauser, came out and told the BBC he was pretty "sad" about the new development.
Speaking with the BBC, he said: "ARM has been the proudest achievement in my life, and this is a very sad day for me – and I think a sad day for technology in Britain.
"It is the loss of independence, ARM is really the last British company that has global reach. It is in 95 per cent of mobile phones and has 400 licences, which are all the semiconductor companies in the world.
"It gave Britain real strength and it was a British company that determined the next generation architecture that is going to be used in all the next generation phones and now, more importantly, in the next generation of the Internet of Things. That determination of what comes next for technology will not be decided in Britain anymore, but in Japan."