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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers December 10, 2022 to December 16, 2022 and includes articles on opening a fully autonomous grocery store and using an AI system to improve crop yields and soil health.

1. Achieving Fusion Ignition

Researchers at the U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have achieved fusion ignition, a milestone in which a nuclear reaction produces more energy than it consumes. The team used machine learning models to predict the outcome of the reaction before running the experiment and found that the reaction would likely achieve ignition.

2. Proving Identification

Google has launched a beta for a digital ID program in Maryland. Android users in the beta program can add their driver’s license or state ID card to their phone’s Wallet app. 

3. Improving Crop Production

An international team of researchers has created an app that uses an AI system to identify 18 common disorders that affect tomatoes, capsica, and cucumbers. Farmers can use the app to increase crop yields.

4. Delivering Food

Uber has partnered with Cartken, a U.S.-based robotics company, to deliver food using sidewalk delivery robots. Uber and Cartken will first offer the service in Miami and will expand to more cities in 2023. 

5. Detecting Urinary Tract Infections

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland’s National Robotarium, and two nursing homes have launched a project to speed up detection and diagnosis of urinary tract infections in assisted living homes. The team will place sensors that can collect data on residents’ health and wellbeing into the homes and use an AI system to monitor residents for early signs of infection. 

6. Shopping for Groceries

Rewe, a grocery chain in Germany, has opened its first fully autonomous store in Munich. Customers can shop for groceries by scanning their phone, selecting their items, and leaving the premises. The store uses computer vision technology to recognize the purchases and charge them appropriately. 

7. Reducing Soil Erosion

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Indiana State Department of Agriculture have created an AI system that can identify how well crops that reduce soil erosion are growing from satellite images. The team used the system to determine the extent of adoption of these crops and found that they expanded from 1.8 percent of farmland in the U.S. Midwest in 2011 to 7.2 percent of farmland in 2021. 

8. Studying Black Holes

An international team of researchers has used a supercomputer to determine how quickly black holes grow. The team created simulations of universes that observed different physical theories of galaxy formation and black hole growth. They then compared the virtual black holes with data on real black holes to determine which growth theories in the simulations best matched existing observations, and found that black holes grow at the same speed as their host galaxies. 

9. Predicting COVID-19 Infections

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University have created five machine learning models that can predict COVID-19 results and determine the differences between serology and molecular tests for the virus. The tests use different mechanisms to detect the virus and, as a result, may not issue accurate or identical results. The team found that the number of days after symptom onset resulted in the biggest discrepancies between the two tests. They used data from 2,467 patients tested with one or more types of tests to train the system. 

10. Celebrating Championships

The U.S. College Football Playoff has partnered with ImagineAR, a Canadian augmented reality company, and SIDEARM Sports, a U.S.-based sports statistics company, to add an augmented reality version of the championship trophy to their app. Fans can use the app to take photos and videos with the virtual trophy and share them to external platforms. 

Image credit: Flickr user Mark Robinson

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