Most Read This Week: Flying Taxi Company Pursues Pilotless, Aerial Sightseeing

Also inside, Elon Musk’s brain implant startup Neuralink successfully implants first chip in human brain

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

February 2, 2024

4 Min Read

Here are the most read stories in IoT World Today this week:

Flying Taxi Company Expands for Pilotless Aerial Sightseeing

A Chinese eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle maker is pursuing the development of passenger-carrying aerial sightseeing in pilotless flying vehicles.

EHang Holdings formed a strategic partnership with the Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Tourism and Sports of Luohu District, Shenzhen municipality, to grow its electric aerial vehicle (EAV) business in the cultural, commercial and tourism sectors.

As part of the agreement, multiple urban air mobility operation centers will be constructed to serve as hubs for both aerial sightseeing and public transportation.

EHang’s EH216-S EAV previously received a standard airworthiness certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the first of its kind globally for an EAV.

“As the EH216-S obtained the world's first type certificate and standard airworthiness certificate of its kind of pilotless passenger-carrying eVTOL, EHang has strategically laid out operation centers across Shenzhen,” said Xin Fang, chief operating officer of EHang. “Moving forward, the EH216-S will expand its presence to more landmarks within Shenzhen to gradually explore an increasing number of new models.”

Related:Most Read This Week: Humanoid Robot Startup Debuts Electric, Somersaulting Robot, Flying Vehicle Company Gets $50M More Funding

See the flying vehicle in action >>>

Elon Musk has announced his brain implant startup, Neuralink, has successfully completed the first chip implant into a human brain. 

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Musk said the patient was recovering well, and that initial results showed a “promising neuron spike.”

He also noted in a separate post that Neuralink’s first product would be called Telepathy.

“Enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking,” Musk wrote. “Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs. Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.”

Read more about the update >>>

Researchers Create Two-Legged Robot Powered by Muscle Tissue

Researchers from the University of Tokyo in Japan have created a two-legged robot powered by living muscle tissues.

The robot was modeled on human movements and can walk and “pivot” to avoid obstacles.

The design features strips of lab-grown skeletal muscle tissues which are attached to the robot’s silicone rubber frame, with electric currents sent through the tissue to cause contractions, lifting the leg of the robot with each zap.

Study author Shoji Takeuchi said the team’s design represents a “giant leap forward” for the field of biohybrid robots, a research field that combines organic and artificial materials to create next-generation robots. 

Watch a video of the robot in action >>>

GM to Cut Cruise Self-Driving Car Spending by $1 Billion

General Motors has confirmed it will reduce spending on Cruise, its troubled autonomous driving subsidiary, by a billion dollars this year.

The announcement was made by chief financial officer Paul Jacobsen in a call with analysts, following an October accident involving a Cruise vehicle that caused the company to suspend all operations across the U.S.

The figure is larger than first indicated, with Jacobsen saying in November that the cuts could stretch to “hundreds of millions of dollars,” but failing to provide an exact figure. 

The news does not mark the end of Cruise, however, with CEO Mary Barra saying the company would be undergoing a strategy overhaul in preparation for re-launch.

“Our planned 2024 investment in Cruise reflects our more deliberate and cadence go-to-market strategy, and we are developing new financial targets and a new road map. We will continue to invest in the people who are advancing the software, specialized hardware and AI capabilities.”

Find out more about the decision >>>

Tesla Humanoid Robot Optimus: A Bare-Bones Look

Elon Musk shared a video update of Tesla’s humanoid robot, Optimus this week.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, the Tesla CEO wrote “going for a walk with Optimus.”

In contrast to previous videos of the robot, Optimus is shown stripped of its external casing, instead displaying its wiring and gears. 

The video comes hot on the heels of a Tesla earnings call, during which Musk told reporters there was a good chance the first units of Optimus would be shipped to customers this year.

“It’s by far the most sophisticated humanoid robot that’s being developed,”  Musk said. “I think we’ve got a good chance of shipping some number of Optimus units next year, but as I said it’s a brand new product and there’s a lot of uncertainty when you’re in uncharted territory.”

See Optimus in action >>>

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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