RUSSIA (BBC): Driverless cars have become a staple of CES but in the past they’ve generally been kept stationary on the show floor.

When Russian tech giant Yandex invited me to go for a ride on the actual streets of Las Vegas in its model - a reworked Toyota Prius loaded with sensors and a big computer in the boot - I was expecting to be underwhelmed.

I’ve seen mini-delivery trucks pootle around at walking speeds on test tracks and I’ve been in a driverless car with a human very much at the wheel, fingers nervously poised millimetres from the steering wheel “just in case”.

And rightly so - when autonomous car tech goes wrong, as Tesla and Uber can both testify, the results can be catastrophic.

It’s a disconcerting thing to be sitting in the backseat of a car with nobody between you and the windshield, especially when that vehicle is travelling at 40mph (64km/h) with pedestrians nearby.

A man called Alexei, the “engineer”, was in the front passenger seat - so there was a “just in case” of sorts.

Alexei had a comically large red button that would have done, well, something dramatic, I suppose. They wouldn’t let me press it.

But as we hit speeds of 44mph on our 20-minute driverless drive, we changed lanes numerous times and negotiated busy junctions without human input - emergency or otherwise.

Yandex has a surprisingly low profile in the West given that it is often referred to as “the Russian Google”. Just like Google, it is a tech giant with fingers in many pies. It says most of its revenue still comes from its search engine, which enjoys a 60% market share in Russia.

China’s heaviest satellite positioned in geosynchronous orbit

BEIJING (Xinhua): China’s heaviest and most advanced satellite, Shijian-20, reached its fixed position in geosynchronous orbit Sunday, marking the first successful flight of DFH-5 satellite platform, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

The Shijian-20 satellite is the first verification satellite for DFH-5 satellite platform, China’s new generation of large geosynchronous orbit satellite platform.

At present, the satellite has completed the orbit transfer and verified the key technologies of the DFH-5 satellite platform, according to Li Feng, chief designer of the satellite.

The Shijian-20 satellite was launched into space by the third Long March-5 rocket, China’s largest carrier rocket on Dec. 27, 2019. It has carried out orbit experiments for a series of key technologies.

Shijian-20 has the largest solar wings among all China’s satellites, with the total wingspan 10 meters wider than that of a Boeing 737 aircraft. The solar wings has unfolded twice, and the increased solar wing area will supply the satellite with abundant power.

Compared with the DFH-3 and DFH-4 satellite platforms, the DFH-5 satellite platform has improved in weight, power and in-orbit lifespan, which will serve the needs of high-capacity satellites in the next 20 years, said Zhou Zhicheng, chief engineer of the DFH-5 satellite platform.