China’s experimental nuclear fusion reactor to go live in 2020

29 Nov 2019

Image: © dani3315/

This week in future tech, China’s plans to be the first to achieve stable nuclear fusion are given a boost with the launch of a new reactor.

The race is on among the world’s nations to create an ‘artificial sun’, and now China is staking its claim as the one to beat with a next-generation nuclear fusion reactor. According to Xinhua News, the HL-2M tokamak reactor is set to be operational as soon as next year, as installation work “has gone smoothly” since the delivery of its coil system in June.

According to Duan Xuru, head of the Southwestern Institute of Physics under the China National Nuclear Corporation, the new nuclear fusion reactor is expected to generate plasma at temperatures of more than 200m degrees Celsius.

He added that the new reactor will provide key technical support for the country’s participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) based in the south of France. As reported by New Atlas, the facility has recently finished construction of the 73 metre-tall building that will house the largest tokamak reactor on Earth.

‘Cyborg warriors’ possible in the US Army by 2050

As reported by the Army Times, a report released earlier this month by the US Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command claimed that by 2050 it will be “technically feasible” to see soldiers using cyborg enhancements for their senses.

Its executive summary read: “This technology is predicted to facilitate read/write capability between humans and machines, and between humans through brain-to-brain interactions.

“These interactions would allow warfighters direct communication with unmanned and autonomous systems, as well as with other humans, to optimise command and control systems and operations.”

The technology will likely develop alongside consumer demand for cyborg enhancements, the report said, but warned of the implications of a cyborg army.

“Introduction of augmented human beings into the general population, Department of Defense active-duty personnel, and near-peer competitors will accelerate in the years following 2050 and will lead to imbalances, inequalities and inequities in established legal, security and ethical frameworks,” the report said.

BMW to build all-electric Mini in China with Great Wall partner

German auto giant BMW has announced a partnership with Great Wall Motors to build all-electric Mini cars in China.

According to AFP (via TechXplore), approximately 160,000 electric Minis a year will be produced at the planned factory in Zhangjiagang, employing 3,000 people. The partners are together investing $715m in the project, with construction of the factory set to be completed by 2022.

As well as the Mini, the factory will also produce cars by Great Wall Motors. In the meantime, BMW’s Mini plant in the UK will produce the electric car with expectations it will be available for sale early next year.

This new venture, called Spotlight Automotive Limited, showed “the enormous importance of the Chinese market”, according to BMW board member Nicolas Peter.

Seoul to let Hyundai autonomous cars loose on city streets

BusinessKorea reported that Hyundai has signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Seoul to develop autonomous car technology, with six vehicles set to be tested on 23 roads in the city’s Gangnam district from next month.

By 2021, a total of 15 Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel cell cars will then be driving around the streets of the South Korean capital. As part of the deal, the city will provide the company with traffic data every fraction of a second to capture real-time information to know which streets to send its cars down.

The goal is to have an established infrastructure that could handle autonomous cars on city streets by 2024.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic