Honda to enter increasingly crowded AAM craft sector with an (e)VTOL airplane

Japanese automotive giant Honda Motor Co. has announced continued diversification of its wide-ranging manufacturing activities with plans to develop electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft as part of its pursuit of renewable-powered advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles.

Honda officials revealed their intention to enter the increasingly crowded eVTOL sector in an announcement that also outlined plans for developing an avatar robot with a multi-fingered hand, and new space technology for lunar surface operation.

Lower silicon production in China may increase chip production costs

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A surge in pricing for silicon metal may become a big issue for Apple and other major manufacturers, with production cuts in China shooting up the price of the material by 300% in less than two months.

Silicon is an important part of the technology landscape, being used for chip production as well as in other industries, including glass production and even concrete, as well as silicone products. However, it seems that the supply of the material is getting extremely tight, despite silicon being abundant enough to make up 28% of the earth’s crust.

While issues ranging from higher chip demand and water shortages have impacted device vendors so far, in what is termed the global chip shortage, silicon itself is a growing problem area. In a report by Bloomberg, production cuts in China has forced up the price of the material to triple what it was two months previous.

Don’t rush to machine learning

A simpler approach—good data, SQL queries, if/then statements—often gets the job done.

It turns out the best way to do machine learning (ML) is sometimes to not do any machine learning at all. In fact, according to Amazon Applied Scientist Eugene Yan, “The first rule of machine learning [is to] start without machine learning.”

What?

Yes, it’s cool to trot out ML models painstakingly crafted over months of arduous effort. It’s also not necessarily the most effective approach. Not when there are simpler, more accessible methods.

It may be an oversimplification to say, as data scientist Noah Lorang did years ago, that “data scientists mostly just do arithmetic.” But he’s not far off, and certainly he and Yan are correct that however much we may want to complicate the process of putting data to work, much of the time it’s better to start small.

Three more U.K. energy firms have collapsed, taking the total number of U.K. utilities that have gone under in the past two mont …

Three more U.K. energy companies were pushed out of business by sky-high natural gas prices, bringing to more than 1.7 million the number of customers who have lost their supplier and adding to pressure on the government to step in.

Igloo Energy Supply Ltd., Enstroga Ltd. and Symbio Energy Ltd. announced their collapse on Wednesday, representing a total of about 233,000 households. Those customers will be allocated another supplier by energy regulator Ofgem. Since the start of August, 10 utilities in the country have gone under.

The latest failures increase the chances that government intervention will be needed. The crisis is building even before the start of winter, when power and gas prices typically increase due to demand for heating. Rising costs are making it difficult for larger suppliers — which have already taken on thousands of additional clients — to absorb even more, absent government support.

Amazon drops Echo Show 15, Astro robot plus Glow, View, Blink and Ring

The e-commerce giant’s invite-only press event brought us Astro, a robot Alexa, a Disney partnership and tons more smart devices.

It’s been a busy couple of months in tech. Today, Amazon held its big product event for the year, during which we usually get upgrades to popular devices. This year Amazon brought us a Nest competitor, Amazon’s Smart Thermostat, the Echo Show 15 and it introduced Disney to Alexa with Hey Disney. The Amazon Glow for kids combines video calling with activities and the Halo View brings Amazon to your wrist. There are more Blink products, and the Ring Alarm Pro lets a service monitor your home while you’re away — or the flying Always Home Cam drone can watch it for you. And Astro the robot brings wheels to Alexa, for $1,000.