Google drone delivery, Tesla Autopilot, ISS birthday - The Wrap

IDG News Service | Nov 5, 2015

On The Wrap this week Google plans to deliver packages by drone, Tesla takes back Autopilot features and the ISS turns 15.

Tesla is scaling back self driving features and the ISS has a big birthday.

Here's your tech top 3 and what you need to know this week.

Google plans to start commercial package delivery by drones in 2017. Google has been working on drone delivery efforts for at least a year and told us about Project Wing in August 2014. Drone delivery will be a competitive landscape with Amazon, Walmart and others looking to use drones as well. None of this will happen though until the FAA loosens the restrictions on drone flights out of line of sight of operators.

Tesla is taking back some of its autopilot controls after drivers posted videos of themselves doing things that Tesla discourages. According to CEO Elon Musk nearly 1 million cars have installed the software update that lets the car automatically steer, stay in its lane and change lanes. Musk said drivers have been posting crazy videos on YouTube which include taking their hands off the wheel. Telsa will place new constraints on the Autopilot system to limit when it can be used.

Would you let a computer respond to your personal emails? That's the idea behind Smart Reply, which uses machine learning to reply to emails received via Google's Inbox app. It's out this week and will give users up to three options to reply to emails based on an analysis of the message's content. It will learn better responses over time, which is good because in early testing is suggested coworkers send I Love you to one another.

In focus this week we head to space where the International Space Station had a big birthday. It's been orbiting the earth 250 miles up for 15 years. Since the first crew docked to the station in 2000 more than 220 people from 17 countries have lived on the station. It's also responsible for nearly 2000 research investigations.

Currently, American astronaut Scott Kelly is in the midst of living on the ISS for a year to see what the long term effects of spaceflight and zero gravity are. That's important if NASA wants to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. The journey there will take several months alone.

Other experiments that will help future Mars missions included 3D printed objects aboard the station. It's a lot easier to do that than to wait for a resupply mission. ISS inhabitants have also used robotic help with mundane and dangerous tasks. Robonaut 2 has been living on the ISS since 2011. Robots working on the ISS and on Mars are the predecessors to the machines that will take astronauts there. The 15 years of work on the ISS has been important for our exploration and potential future homes deeper in space. I'm Nick Barber and that's a wrap.