MIT's 3 Breakthrough Technologies In 2017 Include Reversing Paralysis


The MIT Technological Review has made a list of breakthrough technologies in 2017 from various fields of science and technology. This includes self-driving cars, quantum computers, and one that will make patients with spinal cord injuries move again. Here are three of these impressive technologies coming to us in a few years.

Neural Bypass to Reverse Paralysis

French neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine, also a professor at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and his team have performed a neural bypass to a paralyzed macaque monkey to make it walk again.

What the team did was place a pad of flexible electrodes around the monkey's spinal cord below the injury. Using a wireless connection, a recording device attached to the skull of the monkey. The device reads the monkey's mind to move and sens signals to the electrode pad causing the nerves to move and incite the monkey to action.

The scientists are looking for ways to create a more viable system and hoping that the technology will be commercially available in 10 to 15 years. Aside from reversing paralysis, the scientists are hoping to use it to reverse blindness and restore the memories of Alzheimer's patients.

Practical Quantum Computers

Every year, advances to quantum computing is being accomplished. Tech giants like Intel, Microsoft, and Google are gaining some new grounds. One notable progress of late has been made by Dutch researchers at QuTech located in one of the applied sciences buildings of Delft University of Technology.

The team believes that they are creating qubits that are inherently protected. He said that even though the ropes are deformed, the information remained intact. If such stability is achieved, scientists will be able to scale up quantum computers.

Meanwhile, Intel researchers are showing how to build quantum circuits using traditional silicon wafers. Google's quantum computing efforts, on the other hand, is targeting to build a 49-qubit system a year from now.

Self-Driving Trucks

Otto, a San Francisco company is in the business of fitting trucks with self-driving technology. It was established by former Google employees who are eyeing a future where trucks won't need drivers anymore. Last October, one of their trucks they fitted with the technology traveled 200 miles down from Fort Collins to Colorado Spring carrying 2,000 cases of Budweiser. The test was to show the potential of self-driving trucks in the future.

One of the challenges the team needs to overcome (as observed in the test) was for the truck to become fully autonomous even in small, rural roads or in cities, which is still impossible at the moment. Proponents of the technology say that within 5 to 10 years, such vehicles will become totally viable.

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