A round-up of this month's engineering news from around the world with a regional focus on the USA.
IBM started rolling out its Watson supercomputer system across Africa, which it hopes will help countries “leapfrog” stages of development. The firm said ‘Project Lucy’, named after the earliest known human ancestor fossil that was found in east Africa, would take 10 years and cost £61.3m but will help address continental development obstacles.
The United Arab Emirates said it plans to use drones to deliver official documents and packages to citizens as part of efforts to upgrade government services. The battery-operated vehicle is about half a metre across and is propelled by four rotors, with a top compartment that can carry small parcels.
India’s state-run aerospace company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd delivered the first domestically built astronaut transportation vehicle, marking an important milestone in the country’s plan to launch Indian citizens into space on-board a locally built spacecraft.
The Kingdom of Bhutan partnered with car-manufacturer Nissan to help the country become completely emission-free. The agreement will see the firm supply its LEAF electric cars to the country firstly to make the governmental car fleet fully electric, followed by the country’s taxis.
Work on the Panama Canal expansion resumed being halted for two weeks due to disagreements over $1.6bn in cost overruns. Spanish construction company Sacyr and Italian firm Salini Impreglio, who lead the consortium delivering the project, wants the Panama Canal to pay for the overruns but the parties have now agreed to deal with the issue via arbitration.
An array of radars was deployed on Antarctica to give researchers day-by-day measurements of the health of the Pine Island Glacier. The ice shelves around Antarctica can be up to 1.2 miles thick, but preliminary trials show the new radar system can detect changes of as little as a millimetre - about the amount the glacier melts in just 30 minutes.
The company that built China’s £35bn Three Gorges dam was the subject of a scathing report by Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog on corruption going on during the building of the world’s biggest hydropower scheme. The report reignited public anger over a project funded through a special levy built into power prices across China to channel money to the dam’s construction between 1992 and 2009.
Japan’s vice finance minister Jiro Aichi called for the bitcoin virtual currency to be regulated on an international level to avoid loopholes and debacles such as the unexpected shutdown of the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange - the website Mt.Gox.
The world’s longest aircraft - part plane, part airship and part helicopter - was unveiled in the UK. Known as the HAV304, the 91m-long aircraft is designed to stay airborne for up to three weeks and can be used for a variety of functions including surveillance, communications and delivering aid.