Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this month.
A £519m government investment is set to expand and upgrade the Diamond Light Source scientific research centre in Harwell, Oxfordshire, known for its breakthrough research on HIV, cancer and Covid-19 vaccines. The facility, which also houses a powerful synchrotron (particle accelerator) will undergo a seven-year upgrade. This will see the creation of an advanced synchrotron, emitting light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. This light gets channelled into labs, aiding research in a diverse range of scientific fields. The significant funding, announced during a visit from the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, comes from UKRI (STFC) and the Wellcome Trust. The facility’s current synchrotron is 16 years old, and the new investment promises to maintain its position as a scientific global leader.
London’s West End is getting its first 4G and 5G connected tube stations providing mobile coverage to commuters at Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road. This is just the start of a project that will see 33 stations gaining coverage by the end of this year, rising to 40 by 2024. The other good news for travellers is that all the major mobile networks, including Three UK, EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media O2, are participating.
The infrastructure will also support the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), helping first responders with crucial real-time data during emergencies. Boldyn Networks is leading the project, which involves installing over 2,000km of cabling, mostly at night.
Bristol is set to become home to one of Europe’s most powerful supercomputers, with the aim of driving AI research in the UK. Named Isambard-AI after engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the computer will be installed at the University of Bristol as part of the new AI Research Resource (AIRR). The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology says it will play a key role in optimising AI’s potential and its safe application.
Bristol already hosts advanced computing technologies, with the upcoming Isambard 3 supercomputer set to enhance research in AI and machine learning. Both Isambard 3 and Isambard-AI will operate from the National Composites Centre, a collaboration between the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. The AIRR initiative is funded by a £900m government investment and seeks to revolutionise the UK’s computing prowess.
Robotic Reef Revival
Using the power of robotics and artificial intelligence, marine biologist Taryn Foster is developing a pioneering coral restoration technique off the Abrolhos Islands, Australia. Coral reefs, which support a vast array of marine life, face threats from bleaching due to oceanic changes. To counter this, Foster has introduced a system of grafting coral fragments onto specifically designed limestone-type concrete bases that can then be placed on damaged reefs to kickstart regeneration.
To help speed up the process, Foster has collaborated with San Francisco-based Autodesk, using artificial intelligence to train collaborative robots or ‘cobots’ to carry out repetitive but intricate tasks, such as grafting corals. Equipped with advanced vision systems, the robots can identify and adapt to different coral shapes, ensuring precision when grafting. The coming together of marine science with cutting-edge robotics and AI provides the project with a scalable and efficient method to revive injured reefs. It is expected that the robots will move from the laboratory to the ocean within the next 12-18 months, a step that could revolutionise coral reef restoration.
Oxfordshire’s Driverless Bus
Oxfordshire has seen the arrival of the Mi-Link 003, an electric, self-driving, single-decker bus which is now in service between Didcot Parkway train station and Milton Park. This initiative by First Bus follows the success of previous trials of a self-driving minibus in the same area. Mi-Link 003 comes with advanced radar, LiDAR and AI technology, enabling the vehicle to autonomously steer, accelerate and brake safely. Although it drives itself, a human safety driver is required to remain onboard to take over manual control, if needed, and to assist passengers.
The current trial, which concludes at the end of September, will see the 28-seater bus operating every 30 minutes from 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Previous trials carried out by First Bus have seen the Mi-Link 003 travel over 3,000 miles during which over 1.5 tonnes of carbon emissions were saved. John Birtwistle, First Bus’s head of policy, praised the project as a greener, smarter approach to public transport.
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