Microsoft to cut down pollution from business travel
Microsoft has announced a new effort to reduce the pollution created from its employees’ business flights. The company will buy credits for sustainable aviation fuel from SkyNRG. SkyNRG will then supply cleaner-burning fuel to Alaska Airlines, who will operate the flights. SkyNRG claims that its fuel, made from cooking oils, emits 75% less CO2 emissions than traditional kerosene-based jet fuels.
SoundCloud founders raise $17.8m for e-bike subscription service Dance
Dance, the Berlin-based e-bike subscription service created by the founders of SoundCloud, has raised €15m in a Series A funding round, just three months after launch. The company plans to use the funds to expand its Berlin pilot programme. “Dance is built for the person interested in saving time, the environment and staying healthy," says Quidenus-Wahlforss, one of the company's co-founders.
Environment credits drive Tesla's fifth consecutive quarterly profit
Increased vehicle deliveries and sales of pollution regulatory credits to other carmakers have led to Tesla reporting a fifth successive profit on its revenue of $8.8bn. Environmental credits sold to rival manufacturers makes up $397m of Tesla’s revenue. The credits have become sought-after following several American states increasing the share of zero-emissions cars that carmakers have to sell.
Yuanfudao gets $2.2 billion from Chinese and international investors
Chinese edtech Yuanfudao has picked up $2.2 billion in fresh investment, valuing the company at $15.5 billion. The money came in two rounds, one led by Tencent and another led by DST Global. Yuanfudao operates live tutoring platforms and online homework services. It raised $1 billion in March. The company, based out of Beijing, says it has 400 million users in China.
UK and Thailand partner on smart cities
The UK is partnering with Thailand on smart cities. Projects are ongoing between the two countries, with the UK helping to create an improved flood management system for Lad Phrao, and also working on a data centre project for Bangkok. It is also delivering smart city workshops across the country, and the pair are teaming up on a "Smart City Handbook". 50% of Thailand's population live in cities.
Ford reveals details of fourth-gen self-driving hybrid vehicle
Ford has released details about its fourth-generation self-driving test vehicle. It has a new battery system, with improved cooling, that allows for a reduction in gasoline consumption. It has also upgraded its sensor suite to provide a 360-degree view, which helps to detect close objects. The test vehicle will be rolled out in several cities in the USA, including Washington DC, Miami and Detroit.
HS1 to become the UK's first renewable-powered railway
The UK has announced that HS1 will become the country's first railway run powered entirely by renewable energy. The service, which links London and Kent, will be powered by wind and solar energy. HS1 is also currently the UK's only high-speed railway. The track is also used by Eurostar and Southeastern High Speed and is part of the route that connects London with Paris and Brussels.
MIT CSAIL uses AI to decypher dead languages
Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed an artificial intelligence solution that can decipher dead languages without knowing its relation to existing ones, and only using a few thousand words. This tool would allow access to a whole body of sources that were previously inaccessible.
eVisit raises $14m for SaaS telehealth platform
eVisit, the SaaS telehealth platform, has raised $14m from its Series A funding round. The startup sells its platform to hospitals and health systems, and delivers several functions including scheduling and waiting room management. eVisit works with some of the biggest healthcare providers in the United States. "This funding will further eVisit’s rapid expansion," said co-founder Bret Larsen.
Issue 4
Our cover story dives into the future of food, and how startup Brightseed is using AI to unlock the human health benefits of phytonutrients in plants. Elsewhere, we get the story behind AWS’s role in the small business revolution
Microsoft develops eye-tracking AI
Microsoft researchers have developed an assistive gaze-tracker that works with webcams on any device. Gaze tracking can help people living with motor neurone disease, but are very expensive and not widely available. Microsoft has developed one that achieves an error of 1.8073 centimetres, and its model tracks both eyes, alongside 25-by-35 face-grid positions in the captured images.
Maths learning platform Knowledgehook raises $20m
Knowledgehook has scooped $20m in funding for its popular maths learning platform. The Canadian startup's AI-enabled tool, which uses data to track a learner's progress, has been adopted by more than 100,000 schools. This funding round, led by a London-based edtech investment firm, will allow it to reach 50,000,000 students by the end of 2021. It also wants to apply its tech to other subjects.
Australian government to develop drought tool
The Australian government has sent out a tender to build a digital tool for farmers to assess the impact of climate change on drought. The drought resilience self-assessment tool (DR SAT) would help farmers with drought preparedness, and would be part of the government’s Future Drought Fund. The delivery deadline for the tool, which will be rolled out nationally, is June 2022.

Researchers develop tuberculosis prediction tool
A tool that predicts the chances of someone developing tuberculosis (TB) has been developed. Researchers at University College London have created an algorithm out of data from over 80,000 people which they believe will help slow the spread of the disease by identifying those who are at high risk of developing TB. Over 10 million people develop TB every year globally.
EU launches contact-tracing app interoperability gateway
The European Commission has launched a European Union-wide cross-border interoperability to allow national contact-tracing apps to interact with each other so users will only need to install one app even if they travel across the EU. The system was developed and set up by T-Systems and SAP. Germany's, Ireland's and Italy's contact-tracing apps are already linked through the gateway service.
Uber will invest £5m in London public electric vehicle charging points
Uber has pledged over £5m to build public electric vehicle (EV) charging points in some of the poorest boroughs in London, with the aim of encouraging its population to switch to electric cars. Uber claims that the concentration of EV charging points in London is unevenly distributed, being much lower in the areas where the company's drivers typically live, in contrast to more affluent boroughs.
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