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Methane-munching bacteria being used to produce thread

Future Tech: Including 'seeing' around obstacles & a futuristic look for autonomous trucks.

Would you wear a shirt made from a greenhouse gas?

From Fast Company:

When it wafts from landfills or dairy farms, waste methane — a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than CO2 — is usually seen as a problem. A startup called Mango Materials sees it as something that can be used to make your next T-shirt or carpet for your house — and then be recycled in a closed loop.

“Instead of using ancient fossil carbons to make materials, you’re using something that you already have,” says Molly Morse, CEO of Mango Materials.

At a pilot facility located at a wastewater treatment plant in Redwood City, California, the company is using waste methane to feed bacteria that can produce fully biodegradable bio-polyester fibers. When the bacteria consume methane, they produce PHAs, a kind of plastic that can then be spun into thread. The startup announced the new material at the SynBioBeta conference in San Francisco today.

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This new technology can see around corners

MIT engineers develop tech that sees around corners

From Wired:

Robots can pull off a lot of righteous tricks. One thing they definitely can’t do, though: see around corners. But they just might soon. Engineers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a clever and surprisingly simple way to see around corners. And it’s all thanks to the hidden wonders of light.

Let’s pretend you’re standing in an L-shaped hallway, looking where the inside corner of the hallway meets the floor. You can’t see what’s around the corner, but you can see light emitting from the other side, splashed onto the floor at that right angle.

So long as what’s over there isn’t a single light source, like a flashlight, you won’t see one hard line of shadow. You’ll see a sort of gradient of not-quite-shadow — kind of a blurry shadow. This is known as the penumbra.

Train a camera on this spot and magnify the color, and you can start to pick out different-colored pixels that correspond to objects otherwise obscured by the wall. … It’s so simple, you can capture the image with a cheap webcam. …

That could make self-driving cars even more powerful, for one. The lasers they use are great at building detailed maps of the world, but not so hot at seeing around obstacles. Autonomous wheelchairs, too, could benefit from seeing around corners in office buildings and on city sidewalks.

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No windows, no seats? No problem for this self-driving truck

Windowless, seatless autonomous truck

From Venture Beat:

Swedish company Einride has officially unveiled the first full-scale prototype of its futuristic autonomous electric truck. First announced back in April, the T-pod is touted as being more than a simple self-driving electric truck — it’s pitched as an entirely “new transportation system,” with plans to have an active fleet of 200 T-pods running in Sweden by 2020.

Each pod is 23 feet (7 meters) in length and can hold 15 “standard” pallets, for a total weight of 20 tons when full. The pods will be able to travel 124 miles on a single charge, and Einride is currently developing compatible charging stations to power the vehicles.

One of the most notable differences between the T-pod and other early-stage autonomous vehicle developments is that there is no physical space inside the T-pod for a human to sit — and therefore no need for windows.

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See more IT & Tech innovation stories and let us know the interesting technology stories you come across.

Tom Connon

Tom is a previous small business owner/operator and now has over 17 years of telecom experience. As a Portfolio Manager he specializes in product/service development, managing technical workforces and Customer/Segment Marketing. Outside of the office, Tom can be found shuttling his kids around from Lacrosse, hockey and ringette practices at a rink near you.

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