This article is from The Spark, MIT Technology Review’s weekly climate newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here.
It’s official—after over a month of open voting, hydrogen planes are the readers’ choice for the 11th item on our 2023 list of Breakthrough Technologies!
I’d like to thank the academy, and all of you, on behalf of hydrogen planes. This is an honor, a true honor. (By the way, if you haven’t seen the rest of this year’s list, check it out here.)
It just so happens there’s also some news about hydrogen planes this week. Startup Universal Hydrogen is planning a test flight for tomorrow. If all goes according to plan, it’ll be the largest aircraft yet to fly powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
So for the newsletter this week, let’s take a look at what Universal Hydrogen is up to, why its CEO says he wants to make the equivalent of Nespresso capsules for aviation, and what’s coming up next for hydrogen planes.
Aviation accounts for about 3% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, and the field is growing. Most planes today run on a variation of kerosene, a fossil fuel that generates emissions when it’s burned in aircraft engines. This kind of jet fuel is hard to replace, since it carries a lot of energy in a small amount of space without being too heavy.
There are some options on the table to decarbonize flight. Batteries might work for shorter flights on smaller planes. Sustainable aviation fuels are another option—those can drop into existing planes but might be limited in supply and could be expensive. For more on these possible paths, check out the newsletter from a few weeks ago.
Here, though, let’s focus on hydrogen. Efforts to fly planes using hydrogen as fuel date back to the 1950s. Interest has been rekindled recently as concerns about climate change have put a target on fossil fuels.
Hydrogen is having a moment More capacity for renewable energy means green hydrogen—generated using renewable electricity—is becoming more available, and cheaper. New subsidies for hydrogen are also coming online across Europe and the US.
At the same time, there’s been some significant progress in efforts to fly hydrogen-powered planes in recent years. Startup ZeroAvia has been running test flights of small planes partially powered with hydrogen fuel cells. Airbus has also started up a program to test out hydrogen combustion engines.
And Universal Hydrogen is joining the race this week. The company has a test flight planned for its Dash 8-300, a regional aircraft with over 40 seats.
The major goal is to test out the propulsion system, which will use hydrogen fuel cells that turn hydrogen and oxygen into water vapor, generating electricity to power the plane.
The aircraft will fly with hydrogen fuel cells powering one side while a traditional jet engine runs on the other. It’s a standard practice for testing out new systems in flight, says Universal Hydrogen CEO and cofounder Paul Eremenko.
Even if the test flight is successful, there’s a long road ahead before cargo or passengers will climb aboard a hydrogen-powered plane. That’s because there’s a lot of infrastructure around airplanes, and a broad switch to hydrogen-powered flight may require rethinking a lot of it.
Take fueling, for example. Commercial airports today have an established network to fuel up planes. Jet fuel is carried in, usually on trucks or in pipelines to a central fueling system. Trucks can then pick it up and bring it to a plane as it sits at a gate.
That whole system might not work so well for hydrogen, Eremenko says. Pipelines carrying hydrogen are prone to leak, and keeping hydrogen in a liquid form requires cooling it down to cryogenic temperatures, which often means there’s a lot of loss when moving it from one container to another.
The solution, as Eremenko sees it, looks a lot like one of my prized possessions: a Nespresso coffee maker. Universal Hydrogen plans to build and use pods filled with hydrogen fuel that can be loaded and unloaded from its airplanes, preventing the need to transfer hydrogen between different containers.
The test flight this week won’t use those pods, since the focus is making sure the plane’s propulsion system works as intended. The Dash 8-300 that will be flying will be powered using hydrogen tanks filled up before flight, but future test flights will use the capsule system to test out how that works in the air, Eremenko says.
In the longer term, Universal Hydrogen wants to build a solution for all the hydrogen planes he hopes will be taking off in the years to come.
(As a side note, in order to fit these fuel capsules onboard, planes might need to get a little longer, Eremenko says. Others say planes might change shape completely to fly using hydrogen.)
By: Casey Crownhart
Title: The 11th Breakthrough Technology of 2023 takes flight
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/03/01/1069264/the-11th-breakthrough-technology-of-2023-takes-flight/
Published Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2023 15:55:27 +0000
The Download: China’s EV success in Europe, and ClimateTech is coming
This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.
Meet Europe’s surprising best-selling Chinese EV maker
China’s electric vehicle sector has been lavished with fame and attention. But its global ambitions hit a roadblock this month when the European Commission launched an investigation into whether Chinese-made EVs benefit from excessive government subsidies.
If the inquiry finds evidence for this claim, which experts say is very likely, it could result in increased import duties for Chinese-made EVs, which would likely make them less competitive in European markets.
Many of the Chinese brands that are causing concern are well-known names in China, like the established giant BYD and the promising startup Nio. But there’s one name in the mix you might not expect—former British luxury sports car maker MG. Read the full story.
Zeyi’s story is from China Report, MIT Technology Review’s weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things happening in tech in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.
If you’re interested in reading more about China’s car sector, why not check out:
+ Europe is about to crack down on Chinese electric cars. The European Commission is set to launch an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese automakers. Here’s what you need to know about the likely impact.
+ From generous government subsidies to support for lithium batteries, here’s how China managed to build a world-leading industry in electric vehicles.
China’s car companies are turning into tech companies. China has already won the race to electrify its vehicles. Now it’s pushing ahead and adding more features and services to attract new customers. Read the full story.
+ A race for autopilot dominance is giving China the edge in autonomous driving. Electric vehicle makers and AI companies are taking Tesla FSD-like systems to China, but it’s still out of reach for most consumers. Read the full story.
ClimateTech is coming
How can we build a sustainable, greener future? Next week, MIT Technology Review is holding our second annual ClimateTech conference to discuss the innovations accelerating the transition to a green economy.
ClimateTech is taking place at the MIT Media Lab on MIT’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 4-5. You can register for the event and either attend in-person or online, here—before it’s too late!
MIT Technology Review flash sale!
If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to MIT Technology Review to read more of our incisive reporting. We’re holding a flash sale for just 48 hours, allowing you to subscribe from just $8 a month.
Even better, you’ll receive a free print copy of our 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2023 issue as well. Sign up today and save 17% off the full price.
I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.
1 Amazon is being sued by the FTC in a landmark monopoly case
It’s accused of using illegal tactics to stifle online competition. (Wired $)
Head honcho Andy Jassy is facing an uphill climb. (NYT $)
The Federal Trade Commission avoided calling to break Amazon up. (Bloomberg $)
2 OpenAI is seeking a new valuation
To the tune of between $80 billion and $90 billion, to be exact. (WSJ $)
ChatGPT is about to revolutionize the economy. We need to decide what that looks like. (MIT Technology Review)
3 An astronaut has touched down on Earth after 371 days in space
That’s a new US record. (CBS News)
Traveling to space should teach us how to better accommodate disabled people. (Wired $)
4 Linda Yaccarino’s first 100 days at X have been a wild ride
Forget pressure from advertisers: managing Elon Musk is her biggest challenge. (FT $)
X appears to have disabled an election misinformation reporting measure. (Reuters)
5 YouTube rewarded a creator who livestreamed attacks on Indian Muslims
Hindu nationalist Monu Manesar has been linked to multiple killings this year. (WP $)
6 Microsoft wants to use nuclear energy to power its AI data centers
It’s looking to nuclear fission to keep those expensive centers ticking over. (CNBC)
We were promised smaller nuclear reactors. Where are they? (MIT Technology Review)
7 Maybe we didn’t need to learn to code after all
Generative AI is making it easier than ever to write code, even if it’s far from perfect. (The Atlantic $)
Learning to code isn’t enough. (MIT Technology Review)
8 Inside China’s brave online feminist revolution
The country’s burgeoning women’s rights movement is fighting back against a conservative society. (Rest of World)
9 Attempting to reverse your age is
By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: China’s EV success in Europe, and ClimateTech is coming
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/09/27/1080342/the-download-chinas-ev-success-in-europe-and-climatetech-is-coming/
Published Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2023 12:10:00 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
The metaverse fashion stylists are here
When I met Jenni Svoboda, she was in the midst of designing a beanie with a melted cupcake top, sprinkles, and doughnuts for ears.
“It’s something you’d probably never wear in real life,” she said with a laugh. But Svoboda isn’t designing for the physical world. She’s designing for the metaverse. Svoboda is working in a burgeoning, if bizarre, new niche: fashion stylists who create or curate outfits for people in virtual spaces.
Keep an eye out for #Forever21 dropping the FIRST of their line of LIMITED beanies starting today at 3 PM EST!
Grab em while you can! They WONT be on sale for 24 hours!
Thank you @Forever21 for the chance to collab on these
#Forever21 #Metaverse #Roblox @Roblox #RobloxUGC pic.twitter.com/h3Y5ennidP
— Love (@Lovespunn) December 5, 2022You can’t touch digital fabric, and if you’re not on virtual platforms like Decentraland and Roblox, you can’t even see these outfits. Nevertheless, metaverse stylists are increasingly being sought after as frequent users seek help dressing their avatars—often in experimental, wildly creative looks that defy personal expectations, societal standards, and sometimes even physics.
Most digital stylists balance their metaverse clients with real-world gigs. Michaela Leitz-Askalan, for example, runs a plus-size styling business in the real world but decided to start selling her services as a metaverse fashion stylist after hanging out in the 3D virtual world Decentraland, where her outfits got her compliments from strangers.
Another stylist, British reality television fashion expert Gemma Sheppard, made the jump to styling people in digital spaces after her goddaughter asked her to buy a pair of $60 sparkly shoes for her Roblox avatar three Christmases ago.
But not all metaverse stylists started out doing a real-world version of the job. Svoboda spends her days designing digital clothing and accessories on Roblox, where her unique fashion sense has made her an it-girl. People are lining up to pay to learn from her.
Being a metaverse fashion stylist isn’t currently a gig that can pay all the bills on its own. Leitz-Askalan says that metaverse styling accounts for about 20% of her income in a good month, and both she and Sheppard juggle multiple jobs in real life.
They say it’s still worth it, though, because the job offers the unique opportunity to work in a new medium and learn new skills. Leitz-Askalan launched her metaverse styling business a couple of years ago, meeting with clients on Discord, a chat platform popular with gamers. She designed lookbooks to help them dress their avatars on platforms like Decentraland, DressX, and Auroboros.
Her clients get an expertly curated outfit; she gets $49 in cryptocurrency. To Leitz-Askalan’s clients, it’s well worth the money. “People are like, ‘I want to try crazy things,’” she says. “And I love that.”
Svoboda is primarily a creator designing clothing and accessories for Roblox avatars, but she has begun to style clients’ avatars as well, and she’s meticulous about working out how to do it.
“We have to trial-and-error it,” she says. Svoboda will often look through users’ history of outfits, ask who their favorite artists and influencers are, and then create looks that fit their aesthetic.
“People give me notes and I go into the [Roblox] catalogue and pick out stuff that represents them,” she says. Svoboda also helps people snag their favorite influencers’ outfits, creating detailed “what they wore” pages linking to products.
None of them say it out loud, but it’s likely that some stylists are at least partly attracted by the potential to jump into what’s potentially a very lucrative market early in the game.
The metaverse fashion industry is growing rapidly, and companies like Roblox are already raking in hundreds of millions of dollars on digital clothes. In 2022, over 11.5 million creators made 62 million clothing and accessory items on Roblox alone. DressX, an online digital fashion marketplace, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding since its launch in 2020 and is one of a few brands Meta is working with to launch its own avatar fashion marketplace for its virtual platform, Horizon Worlds. And the world of haute couture is experimenting with independent metaverse projects after successful runs on other platforms, such as Gucci’s “vault” where people can browse exclusive digital fashions and play games.
Not all these outfits are pricey; indeed, many can be obtained for free. But there’s a growing market of super-exclusive outfits released in collaboration with designers that cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on Roblox, whose demographic veers young but is increasingly diverse in terms of age and socioeconomic status,
By: Tanya Basu
Title: The metaverse fashion stylists are here
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/12/07/1064364/the-metaverse-fashion-stylists-are-here/
Published Date: Wed, 07 Dec 2022 09:59:32 +0000
Did you miss our previous article…
The Download: Europe vs Chinese EVs, and making AI vision less biased
Europe is working to slow down the global expansion of Chinese EVs
Earlier this month, the European Commission announced it is launching an anti-subsidy investigation into electric vehicles coming from China.
The move has long been in the making. The rapid recent growth in popularity of Chinese-made electric vehicles in Europe has raised alarms for the domestic automobile industry on the continent. No matter how it shakes out, an official inquiry could hurt the expansion of the Chinese EV business at a critical moment. Read the full story.
These new tools could make AI vision systems less biased
Computer vision systems are everywhere. They help classify and tag images on social media feeds, detect objects and faces in pictures and videos, and highlight relevant elements of an image.
However, they are riddled with biases, and they’re less accurate for images of Black or brown people and women. And there’s another problem: the current ways researchers find biases in these systems are themselves biased, sorting people into broad categories that don’t properly account for the complexity that exists among human beings.
Two new papers by researchers at Sony and Meta propose new ways to measure biases in computer vision systems so as to more fully capture the rich diversity of humanity. Developers could use these tools to check the diversity of their data sets, helping lead to better, more diverse training data for AI. Read the full story.
Getty Images promises its new AI contains no copyrighted art
The news: Getty Images is so confident its new generative AI model is free of copyrighted content that it will cover any potential intellectual-property disputes for its customers.
The background: The generative AI system, announced yesterday, was built by Nvidia and is trained solely on images in Getty’s image library. It does not include logos or images that have been scraped off the internet without consent, and the company is confident that the creators of the images—and any people that appear in them—have consented to having their art used.
Why it matters: The past year has seen a boom in generative AI systems that produce images and text. But AI companies are embroiled in numerous legal battles over copyrighted content, after prominent artists and authors sued them. Read the full story.
What’s changed since the “pause AI” letter six months ago?
Last week marked six months since the Future of Life Institute (FLI), a nonprofit focusing on existential risks surrounding artificial intelligence, shared an open letter signed by famous people such as Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Yoshua Bengio.
The letter called for tech companies to “pause” the development of AI language models more powerful than OpenAI’s GPT-4 for six months—which didn’t happen, obviously.
Melissa Heikkilä, our senior AI reporter, sat down with MIT professor Max Tegmark, the founder and president of FLI, to take stock of what has happened since, and what should happen next. Read the full story.
This story is from The Algorithm, our weekly AI newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.
1 Here’s what’s lurking inside Meta’s AI database
A whole lot of Shakespeare, erotica, and, err, horror written for children. (The Atlantic $)
Meta’s latest AI model is free for all. (MIT Technology Review)
2 Hollywood’s writers’ strike may be nearing its end
A tentative agreement has been reached, though AI is still a sticking point. (Insider $)
It’ll still take plenty of time to get your favorite shows back on air, though. (Engadget)
3 FBI agents haven’t been trained to use facial recognition properly
But that’s not stopping the bureau from using it anyway. (Wired $)
A TikTok account has been doxxing random targets using the tech. (404 Media)
The movement to limit face recognition tech might finally get a win. (MIT Technology Review)
4 Making new antibiotics is an expensive business
And plenty of companies have gone bankrupt trying to make it happen. (WSJ $)
The future of a US plant that makes drugs for kids is hanging in the balance. (Bloomberg $)
5 A US regulator is combing through Wall Street’s private messages
Bankers are not supposed to use WhatApp and Signal to discuss work matters. (Reuters)
6 To live longer, we need to rid ourselves of old cells
Enter a host of enthusiastic startups ready to rise to the challenge. (Economist $)
Can we find ways
By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: Europe vs Chinese EVs, and making AI vision less biased
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/09/26/1080306/the-download-europe-vs-chinese-evs-and-making-ai-vision-less-biased/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2023 12:10:00 +0000
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