Tech Digest daily roundup: British food-waste app Olio raises £31m

Image: Olio

A British app that encourages people to give away excess food has raised $43m (£31m) from investors including German takeaway giant Delivery Hero. Olio, founded in 2015 by Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One – whose second name was invented by her “hippy entrepreneur” parents – has 5m users who collect and distribute food that is going to waste in their neighbourhood. The start-up has signed up deals with Tesco and Booker, which pay Olio to collect food near the end of its shelf life to give it away for free. Olio claims to have saved 17m ­portions of food, which users of its app can collect in their community. It has 30,000 volunteers who help collect and give away food safely. Telegraph 

Scientists have developed stretchy wormlike robots inspired by the movements of worms which could be used in the fields of industry and prosthetics. A team of engineers from the University of Glasgow say the “roboworms” can stretch up to nine times their own length and are capable of a form of proprioception – the method by which biological organisms like worms perceive their position in space. This allows the robot worms to squeeze into tight spots that rigid robots cannot reach. Yahoo!

A major operation to influence public opinion saw comments posted on Western media articles in support of Russian interests, according to new research. Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute found 32 prominent media websites across 16 countries were targeted including Mail Online, the Express and the Times. The comments were fed back into Russian-language media outlets as the basis for stories, researchers said. The tactic was spotted this year. But the operation is believed to have been escalating since at least 2018 and recently focused on the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan. BBC 

Mercedes-Benz introduced a slew of electric vehicles ahead of the IAA Mobility show in Germany, including its first AMG-branded high-performance EV, a sedan and a G-Class SUV concept — all part of the company’s bid to become an electric-only automaker by the end of the decade. Mercedes has already started producing the all-electric EQS, a high-forward and sleek flagship that’s meant to be an electric counterpart to the S-Class. At IAA Mobility, Mercedes aims to showcase its next big EV’s moves. Tech Crunch 

Italian scooter maker Piaggio (PIA.MI) said on Monday it had set up a consortium with Honda Motor Co. (7267.T), KTM AG and Yamaha Motor Co. (7272.T) to encourage the use of swappable batteries for electric motorcycles and light electric vehicles. The Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium (SBMC) aims to broaden the use of light electric vehicles, such as scooters, mopeds and motorcycles, and support a more sustainable management of their batteries, a joint statement said. It will focus on issues such as battery life, recharging times, infrastructure and costs and will work on defining international standard technical specifications for swappable batteries. Reuters

Ask for a roast beef sandwich at an Arby’s drive-thru east of Los Angeles and you may be talking to Tori — an artificially intelligent voice assistant that will take your order and send it to the line cooks. “It doesn’t call sick,” says Amir Siddiqi, whose family installed the AI voice at its Arby’s franchise this year in Ontario, California. “It doesn’t get corona. And the reliability of it is great.” The pandemic didn’t just threaten Americans’ health when it slammed the U.S. in 2020 — it may also have posed a long-term threat to many of their jobs. Faced with worker shortages and higher labor costs, companies are starting to automate service sector jobs that economists once considered safe. AP News 


Chris Price
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