Journalists from MIT Technology Review published an annual list of technologies that, in their opinion, will rapidly develop in the coming years. Some of them already exist, and others are just being developed, but we will monitor them now.
As predicted in the last report, in 2018, many companies engaged in the development and testing of unmanned trucks: Uber, Waymo, Daimler. A truck company Embark set a record by driving the United States from coast to coast. Gene therapy, which journalists called one of the most promising technologies of 2018, has already gradually become embedded in medicine. The us Department of health has approved three gene drugs: two of them fight cancer, and the third — with blindness.
3D printing of metals
Although three-dimensional printing has existed for several decades, for a long time it remained the lot of experimenters and designers who create disposable prototypes. However, in recent years the situation has changed: more and more companies are developing low-cost 3D printers focused on the manufacture of large metal parts. For example, in 2017, the American startup Markforged released its first printer for 3D printing from metal worth less than $100 thousand. And the company Desktop Metal has developed software that independently designs the model of the part and allows you to speed up production 100 times. In the same year, the company General Electric, which has long been testing three-dimensional printing for aircraft production, showed a prototype 3D printer designed to print parts up to 1 meter in diameter. The company plans to start selling the printer in 2018, while developing the printer to create larger parts.
This year, researchers at Cambridge University for the first time have grown an embryo from stem cells — without the use of eggs and sperm. The experiment was conducted on mice, but theoretically it is possible to repeat it on human cells.
The researchers used embryonic stem cells and extraembryonic trophoblastic mouse stem cells, which form the placenta, as well as the extracellular matrix — a three-dimensional framework on which cells can develop outside the body and form tissues. After 96 hours of the experiment, the cells formed a structure with the same characteristics as the mouse embryo 96 hours after fertilization. “Both embryonic and extraembryonic cells interact with each other and are organized into a structure that looks and behaves like an embryo. It has anatomically correct departments that develop in the right place and at the right time,” explains the main researcher of the project Magdalena Zernicka-Getz.
After 96 hours, the development of the embryo froze, as he had no source of oxygen and nutrients. In subsequent experiments, scientists are going to put on a 3D-frame also the stem cells of the yolk SAC, which, according to preliminary calculations, can extend the development of the embryo before the formation of organs.
In October, a subsidiary of the holding company Alphabet called Sidewalk Labs announced plans to build in the coastal part of Toronto high-tech quarter Quayside — “feeling city”, which will be covered by a network of sensors to collect detailed data on the functioning of the city — from the air to the noise level. Based on this data, Sidewalk Labs is going to develop software to optimize the city — for example, to manage traffic. All software created for Quayside, the company promises to publish in the public domain, so that other developers can use it in their projects of smart cities.