A round-up of this month's engineering news from around the world with a regional focus on Africa.
Unmanned surveillance drones will assist an 8,000-strong police force in Northern Ireland during this summer’s G8 summit after the Northern Ireland Policing Board gave approval for the purchase and use of three remote-controlled aerial camera devices to help commanders overseeing the two-day meeting of the world’s political leaders at the lakeside Lough Erne Golf Resort in County Fermanagh.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country will send up the first manned flights from its own soil in 2018. He wants Vostochny, near Russia’s Pacific Coast, to rival its current launch site in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the lease of which has been in contention since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. The first launch will be in 2015 followed by the first manned flight in 2018.
A Japanese court rejected a petition to close the country’s only two operating nuclear reactors, in the country’s first legal ruling on atomic power since the Fukushima disaster two years ago. Anti-nuclear campaigners had sought to have the reactors at Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi plant in western Japan shut because seismologists suspect parts of the station sit above an active faultline – against Japanese law.
Belize’s Supreme Court declared offshore oil drilling contracts in the Meso American Reef issued by the government null and void following a case brought by advocacy groups. Campaigners had voiced concerns about the potentially devastating effect of an oil spill on the reef, which is a major source of tourism income, after one company was granted exploration rights over UNESCO World Heritage Site the Blue Hole.
Norway took a major step towards opening up an environmentally sensitive Arctic area to oil and gas exploration. The ruling Labour Party gave the go-ahead for an impact study, a precursor to any exploration, in the waters around the Lofoten islands after a vote on the issue. The area had been off-limits because it is home to the world’s richest cod stocks.
Australian Federal Police arrested the self-proclaimed leader of the international hacking group LulzSec. Officers said the 24-year-old IT worker, who held a position of trust at an international company where he had access to sensitive information from clients including government agencies, was arrested in Sydney and charged with hacking offences that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s state-backed renewable energy firm, signed a deal worth up to £1bn to Britain’s clean energy sector. The two organisation signed a memorandum of understanding to consider opportunities to invest in green infrastructure projects in the UK over the next seven years at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
A solar-powered aeroplane completed the first leg of an attempt to fly across the US with no fuel but the sun’s energy. The Solar Impulse, which developers hope to eventually pilot around the world, departed San Francisco Bay on 3 May arriving in Phoenix 19 hours later. It is hoped the plane will complete its journey to New York within two months.
Beijing has called for dialogue to avert a ‘trade war’ over EU import duties imposed on Chinese solar panels. The European Commission agreed to impose punitive import duties on solar panels from China in a move to guard against what it sees as dumping of cheap goods in Europe, following proposals by EU trade chief Karel De Gucht.
Samsung announced the development of 5G mobile technology that could allow users to download an entire film in a second. The South Korean firm said it had successfully tested an ‘ultra-high speed’ transceiver capable of transmitting data in the millimetre-wave band at a frequency of 28GHz at a speed of up to 1.056Gb/s to a distance of up to two kilometres.