Simplifying regular medicine collection in South Africa
Simplifying regular medicine collection in South Africa

Safe lockers and self-clean handles: a world of innovation

6 December 2019

Where supply chains make a difference


Driverless cars were spotted on UK streets, when a demonstration took place on public routes in South London in October and November. The project, a collaboration between start-up FiveAI and the StreetWise consortium tested software developed and trained using data sets from UK roads and cities. 


Three houses are being built as a pilot for the first circular-economy housing estate. The trial, part-financed by UIA and the European Regional Development Fund, aims to build homes using 90% recycled materials. Construction firm Jongen and demolition contractor Dusseldorp are leading the project in the town of Kerkrade, with completion scheduled for October 2020. 


A carbon-neutral alternative to plastic has been developed by packaging manufacturer Woodly using cellulose from sustainably managed forests. The bioplastic has the same qualities as regular plastic and could significantly reduce global carbon emissions.


Tech firms China Space Sanjiang Group and VIPioneers have created a 5G-powered autonomous truck to improve safety and efficiency in the mining industry. With a carrying capacity of 110 tonnes, the truck can plan its mission and route for itself, load and unload automatically, as well as drive by itself.

Hong Kong

A self-cleaning door handle has been invented by graduates from the University of Hong Kong. The handle is made of glass with a layer of titanium dioxide that reacts with ultraviolet light to kill 99.8% of germs. The light turns on when the door opens.

South Africa

The Pelebox smart locker enables patients to collect regular medical supplies without having to attend a clinic. Inventor Neo Hutiri was inspired by his own experiences with tuberculosis. Controlled by a touchscreen, the bank of lockers can serve up to 1,400 patients a month. 


A gel-like fluid that can be sprayed on trees and bushes to make them fire retardant has been developed by Stanford University with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The non-toxic biodegradable gel will help equip firefighters against the increasing rate of fires.


A paralysed man has been able to walk for the first time using a robotic exoskeleton controlled by his mind. As part of a trial, scientists at Clinatec and the University of Grenoble placed implants in his brain, which then sent signals to the computer that controlled the robotic suit. The technology is still in development but has great clinical potential.

Crunching the numbers

119: The number of worldwide incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in 2019, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), down from 156 in the same period in 2018.

£32m: The amount paid by UK taxpayers to develop just three shale gas wells, a budget initially meant for 20 wells. In November the government announced it would no longer fund fracking in England.

240,000: The number of cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana trained in good agricultural practice by agri-business Olam in the past 15 years. The firm says it has achieved 100% traceability in its direct cocoa supply chain.

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