Watch Patrick Stewart grow bored of his winery in first ‘Star Trek: Picard’ trailer


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Yes, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is indeed coming back. We knew this from previous announcements, but CBS All Access turned heads at this year’s San Diego Comic Con with an actual trailer of Sir Patrick Stewart Picarding his heart out. He says “engage!” for god’s sake.

From what I can grasp from this trailer, the plot of this Picard-centric follow-up to Star Trek: The Next Generation is that Jean-Luc has retired to a quiet life running a winery but quickly realizes that he’s not through adventuring. For some reason, he has Data stored in pieces in a drawer. He’s convinced to come out of retirement with what looks like a fairly rag-tag crew. Then Data is back somehow.

All of which is to say that this looks awesome and I wish it was here now instead of its “early 2020” release date on the CBS streaming service.

NASA’s Orion crew capsule is officially complete and ready to prep for its first Moon mission


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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NASA’s 50th anniversary celebrations weren’t limited to just remembrances of past achievements – the space agency also marked the day by confirming that the Orion crew capsule that will bring astronauts back to the Moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo program is ready for its first trip to lunar orbit, currently set for sometime after June 2020.

Orion won’t be carrying anyone for its first Moon mission – instead, as part of Artemis 1, it’ll fly uncrewed propelled by the new Space Launch System, spend a total of three weeks in space including six days orbiting the Moon, and then return back to Earth. Once back, it’ll perform a crucial test of high speed re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, to demonstrate the efficacy of the Orion capsule’s thermal shielding prior to carrying actual crew for Artemis 2 in 2022, and ultimately delivering astronauts back to the

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Elon Musk says Starship prototypes will have first test flights in ‘2 to 3 months’


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes that both the Texas and Florida Starship prototype rockets being developed by the private space company will fly “in 2 to three months,” which is an aggressive timeline considering the planned untethered flight of its Starhopper demonstration prototype missed its target of running this past week.

SpaceX is developing two Starship prototypes in parallel, at both its Texas and Florida facilities, in what is sometime referred to in the technology industry as a ‘bake-off.’ Both teams develop their own rockets independently, in an attempt to spur a sense of internal competition and potentially arrive at combined progress that wouldn’t be possible with just a single team working together on the task.

Earlier this month, Musk stated that the inaugural untethered test of its Starhopper (Hopper for short) Starship tech demo prototype would happen this past Tuesday, July 16. Those plans were derailed when a

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Hold the first Moon rock ever collected with your smartphone


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in a variety of ways today, but here’s one you can experience no matter where you are, provided you have a modern smartphone. NASA’s Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science (ARES) department has released a fully detailed model of the first ever sample of lunar soil and rock, bagged by Astronaut Neil Armstrong during humanity’s first-ever trip to the Moon’s surface.

The rock is fully manipulable provided you visit this link on a smartphone with the capability to display interactive 3D field on the web, so you can twist and turn it using touch to get a better look. It has an incredible level of detail, (“research-grade,” in fact, according to ARES, and is part of a larger effort to make more of the organization’s larger library of lunar and antarctic meteroite samples available to more people, both for

3d models vertical

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Startups Weekly: The opportunities & challenges for mental health tech


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about Zoom and Superhuman’s PR disasters. Before that, I noted the big uptick in VC spending in 2019.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

Now let’s talk about mental health startups. VCs may be confident in the potential of teletherapy, but struggling companies in the space tell another story.

Nine months ago Basis launched a website and app for guided conversations via chat or video with pseudo-therapists or people trained in research-backed approaches but who lack the same certifications as a counseling or clinical psychologist. I wrote a story noting

Basis Team

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Tesla drops request for restraining order against allegedly dangerous short seller


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Tesla has withdrawn its request for a court-ordered restraining order against Randeep Hothi, documents submitted to the court where the complaint was filed revealed Friday. Hothi, an individual who is very vocal on social media about his short position in Tesla, had gone to extreme and potentially dangerous lengths in his avid attempts to collect materials to support his vocal criticism, according to the company.

The Alameda County Superior Court actually granted Tesla a temporary injunction in this matter back in April, after Tesla filed a complaint with supporting documents supporting its assertion that Hothi had injured a guard during a hit-and-run incident in February, and that he nearly caused an accident by driving dangerously in pursuit of a Tesla Model 3 undertaking a test driven on April 16.

After granting the temporary injunction based on Tesla’s description of events, supporting materials, and written affidavits submitted by employees, the

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Google’s SMILY is reverse image search for cancer diagnosis


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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Spotting and diagnosing cancer is a complex and difficult process even for the dedicated medical professionals who do it for a living. A new tool from Google researchers could improve the process by providing what amounts to reverse image search for suspicious or known cancerous cells. But it’s more than a simple matching algorithm.

Part of the diagnosis process is often examining tissue samples under a microscope and looking for certain telltale signals or shapes that may indicate one or another form of cancer. This can be a long and arduous process because every cancer and every body is different, and the person inspecting the data must not only look at the patient’s cells but also compare them to known cancerous tissues from a database or even a printed book of samples.

As has been amply demonstrated for years now, matching similar images to one another is a job well

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Self-driving startup AutoX expands beyond deliveries and sets its sights on Europe


This post is by Kirsten Korosec from TechCrunch


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AutoX, the Hong Kong and San Jose, Calif.-based autonomous vehicle technology company, is pushing past its grocery delivery roots and into the AV supplier and robotaxi business.

And now, it’s taking its business to Europe.

AutoX has partnered with NEVS — the Swedish holding company and electric vehicle manufacturer that bought Saab’s assets out of bankruptcy — to deploy a robotaxi pilot service in Europe by the end of 2020. Under the exclusive partnership, AutoX will to integrate its autonomous drive technology into a next-generation electric vehicle inspired by NEVS’s “InMotion” concept that was shown at the CES Asia in 2017.

autox nevs

This next-generation vehicle is being developed by NEVS in Trollhättan, Sweden. Testing of the autonomous NEVs vehicles will begin in the third quarter of 2019. The vehicles will hit public roads in Europe next year, the companies said. 

AutoX founder and CEO Jianxiong Xiao, commonly referred to

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Lyft expands its PIN feature for airport pickups to LaGuardia


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Lyft has announced an expansion of its new program designed to make airports pickups less confusing for riders and drivers alike, by directing riders to a designated pickup spot where they’ll show the driver a PIN code. The program is launching this weekend at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, the company says, and the plan to roll out a similar experience at other airports in the future still remains.

Starting on Saturday, July 20 at LaGuardia, users who request a Lyft ride won’t have to search for their vehicle at the usual and often busy pickup areas. Instead, they’ll be directed through the Lyft app to a designated Lyft pickup spot line, located in the Terminal B Garage, Area G.

A screen will pop-up after the user enters their ride request and destination that explains how to get to the Lyft pickup area, and will display a button that says “Get

Screen Shot 2019 07 19 at 12.25.08 PM

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Powering the brains of tomorrow’s intelligent machines


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Sense and compute are the electronic eyes and ears that will be the ultimate power behind automating menial work and encouraging humans to cultivate their creativity. 

These new capabilities for machines will depend on the best and brightest talent and investors who are building and financing companies aiming to deliver the AI chips destined to be the neurons and synapses of robotic brains.

Like any other herculean task, this one is expected to come with big rewards.  And it will bring with it big promises, outrageous claims, and suspect results. Right now, it’s still the Wild West when it comes to measuring AI chips up against each other.

Remember laptop

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Mylk Guys wants to be the online vegan grocery store that non-vegans can love


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Gaurav Maken, the chief executive officer of the online vegan grocery store, Mylk Guys, doesn’t think of his company as a place to just buy food. For him, it’s a testing ground and platform for all of the new food products he expects to be developed as startup entrepreneurs and established food companies start tackling the plant-based and alternative meat market in earnest.

The company has raised $2.5 million in support of that vision from investors including Khosla Ventures, Pear Ventures, and Fifty Years.

“Today we’re an online grocery store,” says Maken. “We are also a place for cultured meats and any genetically engineered food that allows us to scale our food production and allows us to keep feeding people.”

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Maken isn’t wedded to plant-based products and envisions a virtual store stocked with products that create more sustainable consumption options for its customers. In fact,

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Twitter to attempt to address conversation gaps caused by hidden tweets


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Twitter’s self-service tools when it comes to blocking content you don’t want to see, as well as a growing tendency for users to delete a lot of the content they post, is making some of the conversations on the platform look like Swiss cheese. The company says it will introduce added “context” on content that’s unavailable in conversations in the next few weeks, however, to help make these gaps at least less mystifying.

There are any number of reasons why tweets in a conversation you stumble upon might not be viewable, including that a poster has a private account, that the tweet was taken down due to a policy violation, that it was deleted after the fact or that specific keywords are muted by a user and present in those posts.

China’s Tiangong-2 space station is officially no more


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Chinese space station’s Tiangong-2 has officially ended its mission, and the orbital research facility’s entire existence. The platform de-orbited and burned up as planned at just after 9 AM ET on Friday, coming down over the South Pacific Ocean, as confirmed by the official Chinese space agency.

The station weighed around 9 U.S. tons at the time it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, but even so it was small enough that it almost entirely burned up in the process. Tiangong-2 was relatively small for a space station (when measured against the ISS), consisting of just a research module with enough space on board for only two astronauts on board.

After about 1,000 days in space, Tiangong-2 had exceeded its planned lifespan, and China’s space agency planned this de-orbit – in contrast to Tiangong-1’s de-orbit last year, which was not planned (though ultimately not a risk to anyone on the ground,

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Virgin Orbit signs agreement to launch small satellites for the UK’s Royal Air Force


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Virgin Orbit, the small satellite launch company backed by billionaire Richard Branson, has signed an initial agreement to develop small satellite launch capabilities for the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF). The deal, which is part of the RAF’s Artemis project, will see Virgin Orbit aim to launch hardware provided by Guildford, UK-based Surrey Satellites in a demo mission.

This is in keeping with Virgin Orbit’s stated hope to bring spacecraft launch capabilities to the UK. The closest the UK has come is when it launched a British satellite aboard a British rocket in 1971 – but that took off from a launchpad in Australia. Virgin Orbit announced a deal to build a new Spaceport from which its modified 747 launch aircraft will take-off in Cornwall, with a target open date of early next decade.

Virgin Orbit’s method for launching doesn’t involve terrestrial rockets at all, which helps a lot

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Can you really predict the next generation of unicorns?


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

It’s a good week here at Equity HQ because our two co-hosts are both back at the same time! Kate Clark and Alex Wilhelm, after each of them taking some time off, led the show today, digging into a wealth of news and happenings.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened on the show this week!

Nvidia recreates the Apollo 11 landing with real-time ray tracing


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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It’s the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing, and Nvidia is using the anniversary to showing off the power of its current GPU technology. Using the RTX real-time ray tracing, which was the topic of the day at its recent GTC Conference.

Nvidia employed its latest tech to make big improvements to the moon-landing demo it created five years ago and refined last year to demonstrate its Turing GPU architecture. The resulting simulation is a fully interactive graphic demo that models sunlight in real-time, providing a cinematic and realistic depiction of the Moon landing complete with accurate shadows, visor and metal surface reflections, and more.

Already, Nvidia had put a lot of work into this simulation, which runs on some of its most advanced graphics hardware. When the team began constructing the virtual environment, they studied the lander, the actual reflectivity of astronaut’s space suits and the

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Lexion raises $4.2M to bring AI to contract management


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Contract management isn’t exactly an exciting subject, but it’s a real pain point for many companies. It also lends itself to automation, thanks to recent advances in machine learning and natural language processing. It’s no surprise then, that we see renewed interest in this space and that investors are putting more money into it. Earlier this week, Icertis raised a $115 million Series E round, for example, at a valuation of more than $1 billion. Icertis has been in this business for ten years, though. On the other end of the spectrum, contract management startup Lexion today announced that it has raised a $4.2 million seed round led by Madrona Venture Group and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which was also one of the first users of the product.

Lexion was incubated at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), one of the late Microsoft co-founders’

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5 extraction in action animation

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Tiny UK startup takes on Google’s Wing in the race to a drone traffic control system


This post is by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch


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A future where drones can easily and cheaply do many useful things such as deliver packages, undertake search and rescue missions, deliver urgent medical supplies, not to mention unclogging our roads with flying taxis seems like a future worth shooting for. But before all this can happen, we need to make sure the thousands of drones in the sky are operating safely. A drone needs to be able to automatically detect when entering into the flight path of another drone, manned aircraft or restricted area and to alter its course accordingly to safely continue its journey. The alternative is the chaos and danger of the recent incidences of drones buzzing major airports, for instance.

There is a race on to produce just such a system. Wing LLC, an offshoot of the Alphabet / Google-owned X company, has announced a platform it calls OpenSky that it hopes will become the

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VertoFX raises $2M for its African and EM currency trading platform


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


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VertoFX, an Africa and emerging markets focused currency trading and payment startup, has raised a $2.1 million seed round, led by Accelerated Digital Ventures.

The London based company, with a subsidiary in Lagos, Nigeria, has created a platform that allows businesses and banks to exchange and make payments in exotic foreign currencies that don’t often convert or trade conveniently across businesses or banks.

For example, South Africa’s Rand is Africa’s most convertible and traded currency—with lower spreads and transaction costs—while currencies of countries such as Ethiopia or Egypt may be difficult or expensive to trade or transact B2B payments in.

“That’s the reason we are utilizing technology to create a marketplace model and price discovery to create liquidity for these currencies,” VertoFX founder Ola Oyetayo told TechCrunch.

There are around 40 global currencies that are considered exotic or illiquid, most of them in frontier markets in Asia, Africa,

VertoFX curency startup Africa
vertofx founders Anthony Oduwole and Ola Oyetayo

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WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has reportedly cashed out of over $700 million ahead of its IPO


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Adam Neumann, the co-founder and chief executive of the international real estate co-working startup, WeWork, has reportedly cashed out of more than $700 million from his company ahead of its initial public offering.

The size and timing of the payouts, made through a mix of stock sales and loans secured by his equity in the company, is unusual considering that founders typically wait until after a company holds its public offering to liquidate their holdings.

Despite the loans and sales of stock, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Neumann remains the single largest shareholder in the company.

According to the Journal’s reporting, Neumann has already set up a family office to invest the proceeds and begun to hire financial professionals to run it.

He’s also made significant investments in real estate in New York and San Francisco, including four homes in the greater New York metropolitan area, and

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