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Week In Tech: Enough about Brexit – show me flying cars

By Jack.Ferris on 31st August 2018

In a week where the potential consequences of a No Deal Brexit continue to dominate the newspapers, we need distractions.

Theresa May tried her best. Her C-3PO impression on a diplomatic trip to Africa nearly united the nation in mocking a woman so bad at dancing she was rinsed by the previous champion of terrible robot impressions – Peter Crouch. Ohh the embarrassment.

No, we need a real distraction, we need hope, we need…. Tech. Yep. Tech. Tech will save us. I’m sure of it. Here’s our round-up of distracting tech stories to help you to escape the godforsaken B-word…

Google X chief believes air taxis will be with us soon

“The ground is getting more and more congested – we are all stuck in traffic all the time. Bringing transportation into the air will make things faster, safer and more economically and environmentally friendly. Just imagine travelling at 80 miles an hour in a straight line at any time of day without ever having to stop.”

Corr, that’ll do. I’d happily trade my constantly delayed Great Northern train ride for an air taxi straight to Octopus HQ. Google also plans to make these rides cheaper than Uber or Lyft from day one. Time to start scoping out a landing pad in the office.

The robot that watches as you cross the road

So we could soon have a flying taxi, but what about self-driving cars? When are we getting them? One of the biggest barriers to having a car that’ll whisk you from A to B without needing to drive it yourself is trust. An American Automobile Association study found that 63% of people would feel less safe if they had to share a road with a self-driving car.

Jaguar Land Rover think the solution lies in making these cars eye-catching. Literally. It has begun testing a robot that catches your eye as you cross the road. The self-driving pods, which feature large “virtual eyes” to try to increase humans’ trust in autonomous cars. It’s thought that the virtual eyes can build confidence from pedestrians because humans look for eye-contact from human drivers before they cross the road. Here’s hoping these funny looking cars help to solve the problem.

Uber to diversify into electric bikes and scooters to drive growth

In a move that probably surprised most people. Uber announced plans to shift away from cars to electric bicycles and scooters as part of a new strategy. The chief executive, Dara Dara Khosrowshahi said that smaller, individual modes of transport were better suited to short inner-city journeys than cars.

Uber’s chief believes it’s very inefficient for a one-tonne hunk of metal to be used to carry one person a few miles – try and tell that to any Londoner, five pints down on their way back from the pub at 3am. I think I’d fancy my luck in the back of a taxi, rather than on an electric scooter.

The shift from cars to bikes and scooters may cost Uber in the short term, but considering it recorded a loss of $4.5bn last year, it probably won’t affect their bottom line too much..

Dyson seeks to hoover up the electric car market post-Brexit

Ok fine. Let’s talk about Brexit. Or atleast, let’s talk about one of Brexit’s number one fans – Mr. James Dyson. His company has just unveiled plans for a 10-mile test track in Wiltshire where its new electric cars will be put through their paces.

Coming despite severe warnings over lost jobs and investment from a no-deal Brexit, Dyson’s technology company is spending about £200m to expand the testing facility on a former second world war airfield at Hullavington, near Malmesbury in the west of England.

The track and other facilities are part of a plan to start selling a “radical” electric car from 2021. Dyson hopes that they can *ahem* hoover up the competition, and take on Tesla. Maybe tech will save this country after all. Fingers-crossed it doesn’t suck..

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