The year 2017 was a messy one, full of things like earthquakes, hurricanes, cyber-attacks, and interesting turns for global politics. With all the noise and scary stuff going on, it’s easy to lose track of just how far technology has come this year—we’ve made some incredible advancements to be proud of. Here are just a few of these awesome tech milestones in photos and videos.
The Lunar Palace Teaches Us How to Live on the Moon
According to China Daily, China’s Lunar Palace 1 is a self-contained lab that houses four volunteers in a bio-regenerative environment. The goal is to give researchers a glimpse into how humans might survive on the moon for short to long periods of time. Tech like this might one day be used on our first lunar colony.
Sophia the Robot Addresses the United Nations
In a first for artificial intelligence, Sophia, a learning robot created by Hanson Robotics, addressed the United Nations at a meeting on artificial intelligence and sustainable development. Her poignant answer to a question about how we can give more of the world access to the Internet and electricity drew big applause. “The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed. … If we are smarter and focused on win-win type of results, A.I. could help proficiently distribute the world’s existing resources like food and energy,” she said. Shortly after her appearance at the U.N., Sophia was even granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia.
SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches, Relaunches
The Falcon 9 by SpaceX is the first rocket designed to return to earth after launch, so it can be reused. In a history-making moment, SpaceX re-launched and re-landed its first Falcon 9 rocket on March 31, 2017.
Tesla Builds World’s Largest Battery
Tesla is known for their advancement of electric technology and this year, they powered up the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in Australia. The battery is used to store wind energy and to improve electrical grid reliability. It can store enough energy to power more than 30,000 homes.
Knightscope K5 Takes a Dip
Security robots are starting to appear in places like the San Francisco SPCA, where they’ve started using them for surveillance and to combat things like vandalism and break-ins. Though they can be effective on patrol, many worry they invade privacy or dehumanize suspects. As we see in this tweet by Bilal Farooqui, however, this kind of tech is still under development and we’re clearly still a long way from having RoboCop roaming the streets.
Our D.C. office building got a security robot. It drowned itself.
We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots. pic.twitter.com/rGLTAWZMjn
— Bilal Farooqui (@bilalfarooqui) July 17, 2017
The Falcon Heavy Rocket
SpaceX is at it again, and this time they have a bigger, bolder rocket ready to launch: The Falcon Heavy. According to Space.com, the Falcon Heavy’s payload is 119,000 lb., and it’s the most powerful rocket since NASA’s Saturn V moon rocket. Elon Musk himself shared a photo of the incredible machine on December 20, 2017.
Falcon Heavy at the Cape pic.twitter.com/hizfDVsU7X
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2017
MIT Reverses Paralysis
According to MIT, a French neuroscientist built a system that allowed a monkey to move its paralyzed leg. The system uses electrodes wired to the monkey’s spinal cord and motor cortex. A recorder touching the motor cortex can read the monkey’s intention to move and transmit electrical stimulation to its leg, allowing it to move using its thoughts. Scientists hope this breakthrough will allow people suffering from paralysis to one day move their limbs again.
Yes, 2017 was awesome, but 2018 is sure to hold some amazing advancements as well. What new tech are you most looking forward to this year?