BBC News


The snow patrol drones saving skiiers from an icy death

BBC News

Being buried alive is a scenario most of us thankfully only experience in nightmares. But for off-piste skiing fans, lured by the thrill of carving their own tracks through fresh powder snow, it's an ever-present risk. More than 150 people - mostly skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers - are killed in avalanches every year, according to National Geographic statistics. This month alone, there have been deaths in Switzerland, Italy, Canada and North America. Drone manufacturers claim UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) could slash the toll by finding victims faster, and allowing ski patrollers to clear snow on high-risk slopes using explosives - without endangering themselves.


Drone no-fly zone to be widened after Gatwick chaos

BBC News

The no-fly zone for drones around airports is to be extended following the disruption at Gatwick in December, the government says. From 13 March it will be illegal to fly a drone within three miles of an airport, rather than the current 0.6-mile (1km) exclusion zone. The government also said it wants police to have new stop and search powers to tackle drone misuse. Gatwick was shut for more than a day after drone sightings near the runway. It caused chaos for travellers, affecting more than 1,000 flights and about 140,000 passengers.


Engineers of the future create Lego robots

BBC News

Over 70 teams of schoolchildren from the UK and Ireland took part in the Institution of Engineering and Technology event in Bristol.


Call to ban killer robots in wars

BBC News

A group of scientists has called for a ban on the development of weapons controlled by artificial intelligence (AI). It says that autonomous weapons may malfunction in unpredictable ways and kill innocent people. Ethics experts also argue that it is a moral step too far for AI systems to kill without any human intervention. The comments were made at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington DC. Human Rights Watch (HRW) is one of the 89 non-governmental organisations from 50 countries that have formed the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, to press for an international treaty.


What are the biggest threats to humanity?

BBC News

Human extinction may be the stuff of nightmares but there are many ways in which it could happen. Popular culture tends to focus on only the most spectacular possibilities: think of the hurtling asteroid of the film Armageddon or the alien invasion of Independence Day. While a dramatic end to humanity is possible, focusing on such scenarios may mean ignoring the most serious threats we face in today's world. And it could be that we are able to do something about these. In 1815 an eruption of Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, killed more than 70,000 people, while hurling volcanic ash into the upper atmosphere.


The robot helping a seven-year-old boy go to school

BBC News

Sam's mum Jude told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Perhaps most importantly for Sam, it's knowing what's going on during school without getting any germs. And just not feeling left out. Feeling like he is still part of the class and that people haven't forgotten him."


Nasa's InSight mission: Mars 'mole' put on planet's surface

BBC News

The US space agency's (Nasa) InSight mission has positioned the second of its surface instruments on Mars. Known as HP3, the heat-flow probe was picked up off the deck of the lander with a robot arm and placed next to the SEIS seismometer package, which was deployed in December. Together with an onboard radio experiment, these sensor systems will be used to investigate the interior of the planet, to understand its present-day activity and how the sub-surface rocks are layered. It's no easy task to set up such sensitive instruments on the surface of another world. Together we'll unlock some of #Mars' deep secrets.


Pointless GCSEs should be scrapped, says senior MP

BBC News

GCSEs should be scrapped and A-levels should be replaced by a mix of academic and vocational subjects, says Robert Halfon, chairman of the Education Select Committee. His radical rewriting of England's exam system is designed to give young people a much broader range of skills for their working lives. The former Tory minister says GCSEs for 16-year-olds have become "pointless". The Department for Education defended GCSEs as "gold standard" exams. But head teachers' leader Geoff Barton said the ideas had a "lot of merit".


Endurance: Search for Shackleton's lost ship begins

BBC News

Antarctic scientists seeking to locate the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship, the Endurance, have arrived at the search site. The team broke through thick pack ice on Sunday to reach the vessel's last known position in the Weddell Sea. Robotic submersibles will now spend the next few days scouring the ocean floor for the maritime icon. Shackleton and his crew had to abandon Endurance in 1915 when it was crushed by sea ice and sank in 3,000m of water. Their escape across the frozen floes on foot and in lifeboats is an extraordinary story that has resonated down through the years - and makes the wooden polar yacht perhaps the most sought-after of all undiscovered wrecks.


Grindr and Tinder 'must not risk children's safety'

BBC News

The digital secretary has said he will question Grindr and Tinder about how they protect children after an investigation claimed they are put at risk of sexual exploitation. More than 30 cases of child rape have been investigated by police since 2015 after victims evaded age checks on such apps, the Sunday Times found. Jeremy Wright described it as "truly shocking". Grindr and Tinder said they have measures to prevent minors using them. A Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Times also showed 60 further instances of child sex offences - including grooming, kidnapping and violent assault - through online dating services.