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Researchers in the U.K. have developed autonomous drones that can inspect offshore energy sites.

The drones were developed by the Offshore Robotics for the Certification of Assets (ORCA) Hub.

Launched in 2017, the ORCA Hub is a consortium of five universities working with partners from industry sectors such as energy and technology. It’s led by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, which is in itself a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. Imperial College London, the University of Liverpool and University of Oxford are also involved.

In a statement Monday, Imperial College London’s Mirko Kovac said that drones were currently used to inspect offshore wind turbines, but that such inspections were “remotely controlled by people on-site at the offshore location.”

“Should an area of concern be found, technicians are required to carry out further inspection, maintenance or repair, often at great heights and therefore in high-risk environments,” Kovac, who is director of Imperial’s aerial robotics laboratory, added.

“Our drones are fully autonomous. As well as visually inspecting a turbine for integrity concerns, ours make contact, placing sensors on the infrastructure, or acting as a sensor itself, to assess the health of each asset. Our technology could even deposit repair material for certain types of damage.”

Kovac explained that the autonomous drones could remove the need for humans to carry out dangerous and costly tasks such as abseiling down wind turbines and cut the number of ships going to and from wind farms.

As technology develops, drones are being deployed in a wide range of industries and locations. In the energy sector, Air Control Entech and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre launched three drones last year which can live stream offshore inspections and undertake three-dimensional laser scanning and ultrasonic testing. Led by industry, the center describes itself as a “research and knowledge organisation” and is backed by the U.K. and Scottish governments.

In September 2019, autonomous drone technology was used to deliver diabetes medication to a location off the west coast of Ireland. The contents of the delivery were insulin and glucagon, while the drone also collected a patient’s blood sample.

The National University of Ireland in Galway said the drone’s journey between Connemara Airport and Inis Mór, which is part of the Aran Islands, showed “the possibility of future deliveries of this kind within planned drone corridors.”

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S&P 500 will see ‘10% pop’ on US-China trade settlement



The S&P 500 will get a double-digit percent lift from a “settlement” in the U.S.-China trade war, Wharton School professor Jeremy Siegel told CNBC on Tuesday.

“If we get some sort of settlement, I think we get a 10% pop, at least, in the S&P,” the longtime stock bull said on “Closing Bell.” “Otherwise, we’re just going to be muddling along, because valuations are pretty full at this particular juncture, until we get some push on earnings.”

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% to 3,091.84 on Tuesday, touching a new intraday record. The Nasdaq Composite inched to a record high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at precisely the same level it opened, 27,691.49.

The stock market’s record run recently has been fueled, in part, by an improving outlook toward a resolution in the long-running trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. The S&P, for example, is up 4.09% over the last month.

In October, President Donald Trump announced a “phase one” deal with China, which has yet to be officially signed.

At the moment, Siegel said, the most important factor for the stock market is the trade war, not any potential action from the Federal Reserve. The central bank has thrice cut interest rates this year, most recently on Oct. 30.

“I think the Fed has been taken out of the equation,” Siegel said, noting recession fears also have started to subside.

Siegel said in September another 25 basis-point interest rate cut was necessary to stave off a recession. That cut was made in October.

Despite Trump’s pleas Tuesday for further rate cuts at the Economic Club of New York, Siegel said interest rates have “gotten to where they’re going to be.”

“The traders are looking for a trade deal,” Siegel said.

The absence of a significant resolution to the trade dispute — which has weighed on global growth — would be a “disappointment,” Siegel said.

And at present valuations, with stocks selling at about 19 times this year’s S&P operating earnings, the market has little wiggle room for a major let-down, the professor argued.

“It isn’t cheap. Now, it’s not expensive for the interest rate level that we’re at. But it doesn’t give a lot of room for some big disappointment,” he said. “An escalation of any trade tensions would really bring a sell-off.”

On the other hand, Siegel said, “If Trump can deliver on a trade deal, I think you’ll have a global bull market.”

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Trump had call with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks, Rick Gates says.



Roger Stone, former advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives with his wife Nydia Stone (R) and his legal team for the second day of his trial at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on November 6, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson | Getty Images

A former top Trump campaign official on Tuesday testified that President Donald Trump talked to political trickster Roger Stone about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

That testimony by Rick Gates at Stone’s trial contrasts with Trump’s claim last November that he did not recall speaking to Stone about WikiLeaks, the document disclosure group that during the 2016 campaign released emails stolen from the Democratic Party and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s own campaign chief.

Gates testified in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that less than a minute after finishing a July 2016 call from Stone, Trump indicated that “more information would be coming” from Wikileaks.

In a written response to special counsel Robert Mueller last November, Trump had said, “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with” Stone, “nor do I recall Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with my campaign.”

But Trump also said, “I was aware that WikiLeaks was the subject of media reporting and campaign-related discussion at the time.”

The president’s written responses were requested by Mueller last year as part of his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the question of whether Trump’s campaign had coordinated with Russians.

Gates testified Tuesday that in addition to speaking to Trump about WikiLeaks, Stone was known in the campaign as a source for information expected to be released by the group.

And Gates also testified that another campaign official, Paul Manafort, told him that he would update Trump with any information that he could get from Stone.

Jurors on Tuesday saw an email between Gates and Stone after the Democratic National Committee revealed that its computers had been hacked in 2016. U.S. intelligence agencies later said that hackers were Russian agents.

In that email, Stone asked Gates for the contact information of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior advisor to the president.

WikiLeaks later ended up releasing emails stolen from the DNC during the campaign in an apparent effort to boost Trump’s candidacy.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, declined to comment about Gates’ testimony when contacted by CNBC.

Stone, a longtime Republican operative and friend of Trump’s, is charged with lying to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election, as well as other crimes. He has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Gates pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to the FBI and to conspiracy. He testified later that same year against his former boss and onetime Trump campaign chief Manafort, who is now serving a 7½-year prison term for multiple crimes. Gates has yet to be sentenced for his crimes.

Asked by a prosecutor Tuesday who on the Trump campaign had information about WikiLeaks, Gates said, “The only person that had information at that time, that I’m aware of, was Mr. Stone.”

In early 2016, Gates testified, he and Stone had talked about WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, who at the time was a fugitive holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Stone “indicated that he would have information coming out,” Gates said.

Gates said the phone call that occurred in July 2016 between Trump and Stone came as Trump and Gates were being driven to La Guardia Airport in New York City from Trump’s Manhattan offices.

A prosecutor asked Gates, “Immediately after the phone call with Roger Stone, what did Mr. Trump say to you?”

Stone’s lawyers objected to that question.

But after a bench conference with the judge, Gates was allowed to answer what Trump told him.

“He indicated that more information would be coming,” Gates testified.

Gates said, “I did not” hear the content of the call.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announces Gigafactory, design center near Berlin



Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., speaks during an interview at the company’s assembly plant in Fremont, California, U.S., on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made it official on Tuesday — the electric car company plans to build a ‘Gigafactory,’ and engineering and design center in Berlin, Germany.

The facility would be Tesla’s fourth, following the first Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada, near Reno; a factory that makes charging equipment and power electronics in Buffalo, New York, with plans to make Tesla Solar Roof tiles there someday; and another car plant that’s coming online in Shanghai, today.

Musk said, “Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, for sure. That’s part of the reason why we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany. We are also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin, because Berlin has some of the best art in the world.” When pressed for more details, Musk said the factory will be located near the new airport in the Berlin area.

Musk announced the location while speaking at an awards show in Germany today. He was given a “Das Goldene Lenkrad” or “Golden Steering Wheel Award” by Bild, a publication owned by Axel Springer.

Musk has talked about Tesla’s aims to build a European factory for years. In 2016, after Tesla acquired a German manufacturing and automation design firm, Grohmann Engineering, the CEO suggested that its European factory should be in Germany, reiterating that suggestion on social media last summer and on earnings calls several times.

U.S. revenue dipped for Tesla in the third quarter. But its sales have increased in European countries throughout the first three quarters of 2019, despite a slowdown in the overall market for new cars in the region.

Building a factory there could help Tesla avoid the complexities of exporting its cars from the states to Europe, of course, and could help it avoid uncertainty around trade and tariffs.

In a third-quarter update, Tesla said it plans to produce its already-popular Model 3 electric sedans and forthcoming Model Y, a crossover SUV, at the European factory.

Follow @CNBCtech on Twitter for the latest tech industry news.

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