Technology had important advances and a few setbacks in 2016. Self-driving cars began appearing, while private space exploration firms saw their rockets explode on launch pads. Still, technology keeps promising a better future. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Electric cars are no longer a novelty. Manufacturers are racing them towards the future of self-driving technology. In spite of several crashes one of them fatal, automakers and car sharing companies are strongly pushing for vehicles with different levels of autonomy from the ones where the driver can take over at any moment to the ones that learn from experiences on the road.
Sravan Puttagunta, CEO of Civil Maps
“When the self-driving car encounters that situation in the future we can study what you know millions of how millions of people reacted to that situation and pick the appropriate option.”
2016 also saw the proliferation of all kinds of robots begin small humanoid like in strange looking animals. Some of them are helping ordinary people.
But most of them are still experimental platforms helping scientists crack the toughest hardware and software problems. Others are already working in industry and science and even on the surface of Mars. Their next of kin drones are set to start delivering merchandise. Medical technology also made advances from growing less complicated tissues such as cartilage to brain control exoskeletons helping handicapped people regain some mobility.
Surjo Soekadar, University of Tubingen
“For example if the hand is moving although you are not intending to move your hand then you can control this kind of movement with your eye movements.”
3D Printers are now capable of manufacturing complicated machine parts.
James Cashman, CEO of ANSYS
“So if we look at this inside here there’s a honeycomb structure you could never take a machine tool and manufacture that the old way you just couldn’t physically do it.”
One of the biggest consumer technologies setbacks was the launch of Samsung’s 7 Smartphone with the battery that had the tendency to self-destruct. Samsung quickly offered a replacement which did not solve the problem so the entire line had to be scrapped. Space axis unmanned rocket exploded on the launch pad destroying a payload of commercial satellites and slowing down the private companies plans for regular commercial trips the law orbit and the International Space Station .
2016 also a proliferation of the so-called home assistance all the players that can understand voice commands and perform many tasks from playing music on demand to searching for information through the internet.
IMB Supercomputer Watson was busy helping doctors around the world in various projects one of them is collecting and processing information about rare diseases.
Dr.Jurgen Schafer, University Hospital of Marburg
“The knowledge in medicine is going to double so if we want to use this enormous improvement of medical knowledge we need to have assistant systems and we need to have software tools to get a hand on this.”
2016 also showed substantial vulnerabilities of computer networks with several big thefts of private information so experts say cybersecurity will be one of the most important technology trends for the coming year.