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Planes without a pilot?: new tech redefines the future of flying

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autonomous flight technology with Merlin labs

New autonomous flight startup says the sky will soon be filled with pilotless planes

Merlin Labs, the Tesla of planes

Aviation technology startup Merlin labs recently announced they’ve secured $25 million in funding for the development of their pilotless planes.

The company recently struck a deal with aviation services contractor Dynamic Aviation, with potential to expand their tech to commercial flights.

“What we’re working on is creating a truly autonomous digital pilot”

Merlin Labs CEO Matt George

As part of this deal, Merlin Labs will supply its autonomous flight technology to 55 of the contractor’s King Air aircraft. The company says it’s already conducting test flights with the first King Air plane.

Merlin Labs CEO Matt George said the company’s goal is to be able to fly planes totally unmanned. The new technology will use enable existing aircraft to “fly autonomously,” he said.

How does the technology work?

The autonomous flight technology that allows Merlin’s aircraft to fly without a pilot is pretty simple, George says.

“The reason that that autonomy up in the air is so much easier is that you have complete vision, at least in the United States, of everything that’s up in the sky, with ground based radar,” he said.

Merlin says it envisions the role of remote pilots as supervisory, monitoring dozens of aircraft in the sky at once. George says the “vast majority of tasks” will be left to autonomous software, including communication with air traffic control and navigation.

https://twitter.com/ShrugCap/status/1397608842100449283?s=20

Safety of autonomous flying

Merlin Labs “doesn’t believe in remote piloting”. If the aircraft loses signal with the remote operator, then you would have “a huge chunk of metal hurtling through the sky,” he told The Verge.

It may come as a surprise that this autonomous flight technology is not quite as new as it seems. It’s actually quite common for planes to have some level of autopilot capability.

In 2016, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General released a damning report. It called out the FAA for failing to ensure pilots receive enough training in manual flying.

George believes that pilotless planes will increase the overall safety of flying. This comes amid ongoing safety investigations into Tesla’s autopilot feature.

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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Chinese spacecraft captures rare images of Mars

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A Chinese spacecraft has captured images of Mars circling around the planet over 13 hundred times

The crewless shuttle reached the Red Planet early last year… deploying a robotic rover.

Some of the photos captured the south pole… a first for China.

The area is known for its large water reserve… hidden under the south pole ice, which was detected by the European Space Agency’s orbiting probe.

Water is a key element in determining whether a planet has the potential for life.

Other images include a 4,000 kilometre long canyon and impact craters in the north of Mars.

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Tech

No more AirBNB parties. Ever

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AirBNB has announced an end to house parties forever, in a move that will impact operations around the world

Airbnb announced a global ban on parties following a temporary restriction it put on parties two years ago at the start of the pandemic.

The company is permanently banning “disruptive parties and events,” which include open-invite gatherings.

“Party houses,” will stay banned as well. That will put an end to people booking a house for a big party for just one night.

Airbnb has struggled with party houses, given the noise caused often leads to a visit by the police.

Airbnb placed a ban on party houses in 2019 after five people were killed in a shooting at one of its bookings.

That was followed by a global ban on party houses just as the pandemic hit.

Airbnb says it has seen a 44% year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports since introducing the ban.

“The temporary ban has proved effective, and today we are officially codifying the ban as our policy,” the company says.

The party continues

But how successful will the ban be?

Guests can sometimes check in to remote properties themselves while the owner is away and can invite as many people over as they want.

Airbnb says guests who attempt to violate its rules will face consequences varying from account suspension to full removal from the platform.

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Why Microsoft could be forced to pay more tax

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Tech giant Microsoft is facing increasing pressure to publish its tax data with investors demanding transparency

Investors who are managing more than $350 billion of the company’s assets want access to further financial information. 

It comes as tech giants globally face growing scrutiny over their tax affairs. 

Investors are demanding that Microsoft publish more transparent tax and financial information, as tech giants face growing scrutiny globally over their tax affairs.

A shareholder resolution on tax transparency had been filed to Microsoft ahead of its annual investor meeting this year.

The organiser of the action is UK-based proxy advisers Pensions & Investment Research Consultants.

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone is seen in front of the Microsoft logo in this illustration photo taken July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Taxation transparency

Investors including Nordea, AkademikerPension and Greater Manchester Pension Fund had backed the resolution.

The resolution calls on the company to publish financial and tax information on a country-by-country basis outside its home market of the United States.

The investors want to know whether Microsoft is paying fair taxes and identify any risks posed by tax reforms.

It also calls on Microsoft to produce a tax transparency report in line with the tax standard of the Global Reporting Initiative, a standards organisation.

Microsoft waa not immediately available for comment.

It comes as Microsoft revealed Russian government hackers carried out multiple cyber operations against Ukraine.

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