Drone registration, autonomous cars, astronaut recruitment - The Wrap

IDG News Service | Dec 17, 2015

You'll have to register that new drone you get, California is opening its roads to public use of autonomous cars and NASA is looking for new astronauts. Follow host Nick Barber on Twitter @nickjb

A new drone rule you need to know and NASA needs you.

Here's your tech top 3 and what you need to know this week. Smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm decided the best way to turn around performance may be by staying together. The company's board decided against a breakup. The chipmaker has been fighting an uphill battle as device makers build their own chips or go with competitors. It's seen a 47 percent drop in net profit year on year and CEO Steve Mollenkopf laid off one in seven employees. The company decided its current structure is the best for a profitable future.

Getting a drone this holiday season? Make sure you register it, that's the new rule from the US government's Federal Aviation Administration. Under the new rule drones weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds will need to be registered. Owners will receive a certificate and registration number that needs to be marked on the drone. That way, in theory, law enforcement will be able to identify any illegally flown drones and contact the operators.

California roads are open to public use of autonomous cars. That's a change from the current situation where only selected companies like Google, Mercedes Benz and Toyota could use the cars. That means car makers could lease autonomous vehicles to the public and then collect valuable real world data about the performance and how they deal with certain situations. The change will pave the way for continued R&D until one day when computers rather than humans are in charge of where we go.

In focus this week we turn to NASA, which is looking to recruit its next crop of astronauts. Yes, if you want to fly into space, NASA is looking for you and they're casting a wide net, looking for innovative, varied minds to forge a new path in space. It's important to note that NASA is not just looking for US citizens, but it will be sending them into space from US soil on US-made vehicles. That's a big change because since the shuttle program ended in 2011, US astronauts have had to hitch rides from other nations. Besides being a US citizen you'll need to have a degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. You must have 3 years of professional experience or at least 1,000 hours logged as a jet pilot. There are a number of space missions that could be possibilities including going to Mars. The requirements are broad and that's because NASA wants to attract the best scientists, engineers and physicians. As humans spend longer and longer times in space and eventually settle on other planets, a new set of problems will need solutions and those wide sets of backgrounds will hopefully provide that problem solving. NASA is accepting applications through February with a selection set for 2017. The lucky few that are selected are sure to have life changing and literally out of this world experiences. I'm Nick Barber and that's a wrap.