BBC News


Addison Lee plans self-driving taxis by 2021

BBC News

Would you trust a taxi with no driver? Taxi firm Addison Lee is betting its customers will be ready to, in London at least, in just three years' time. It has joined forces with self-driving software specialist Oxbotica, and says the tie-up means it will offer self-driving taxis in the capital by 2021. The move will pit it against rival ride-hailing app Uber, which is also planning to roll out driverless cars on its network in the future, pending regulatory permission. Addison Lee says it will now work with Oxbotica on digitally mapping public roads in and around the capital.


What's the point of concept cars?

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Concept cars look beautiful and futuristic, but why do manufacturers spend millions developing them if they're never going to make it into production? Take, for example, the DS X e-tense, a "2035 dream car" produced by the French luxury brand DS. Half open-topped sports car, half luxury saloon, its outlandish styling looks as though it has come straight from the pages of a superhero magazine. It is designed to show what the company thinks a hugely powerful, all-electric self-driving machine might actually be like. It bears little relation to anything the brand currently produces, but that is hardly the point.


Amazon creates 1,000 'highly skilled' jobs in three UK cities

BBC News

Amazon has revealed plans to create more than 1,000 jobs in the UK in Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge. At least 600 "highly skilled" roles will be added in Manchester working on software, machine learning and AWS, its cloud computing business. The company will also create 250 and 180 jobs at its development centres in Edinburgh and Cambridge respectively. Doug Gurr, Amazon's UK country manager, described the new roles as "Silicon Valley jobs in Britain". Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said the new positions were an "enormous vote of confidence in the UK".


Pepper the robot tells MPs about artificial intelligence

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The resident robot from Middlesex University was asked by chairman Robert Halfon to explain the artificial intelligence (AI) Careses project, which promotes independent living and aims to reduce pressure on health care services.


Could a skin-climbing robot help spot cancer?

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Fitted with suction cups to help it move, the prototype can be fitted with a dermatoscope to help look for signs of abnormalities, including skin cancer, something normally done manually by a doctor.


Sky battles: Fighting back against rogue drones

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Rogue drones have nearly caused air accidents, have been used as offensive weapons, to deliver drugs to prisoners, and to spy on people. So how can we fight back? This summer a packed Airbus A321 came within 100ft (30m) of disaster after encountering a drone at 15,500ft. And the number of near-misses of this sort has trebled over the last three years, with 92 incidents reported last year in the UK alone. Dozens were classified as involving a serious chance of a collision.



Why you have (probably) already bought your last car

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I'm guessing you are scoffing in disbelief at the very suggestion of this article, but bear with me. A growing number of tech analysts are predicting that in less than 20 years we'll all have stopped owning cars, and, what's more, the internal combustion engine will have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Yes, it's a big claim and you are right to be sceptical, but the argument that a unique convergence of new technology is poised to revolutionise personal transportation is more persuasive than you might think. The central idea is pretty simple: Self-driving electric vehicles organised into an Uber-style network will be able to offer such cheap transport that you'll very quickly - we're talking perhaps a decade - decide you don't need a car any more. And if you're thinking this timescale is wildly optimistic, just recall how rapidly cars replaced horses.


Facebook Portal video chat screens raise privacy concerns

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Facebook is launching two video call machines for the home in the midst of its latest data breach scandal. The Portal products automatically zoom in on users and follow them as they move, to offer a superior experience to existing smartphone and tablet apps. The devices rely on Facebook Messenger to make and receive calls and also feature Amazon's Alexa smart assistant. But consumers may have privacy concerns and a rival device-maker suggested the very concept was "tech clutter". "It's staggeringly unfortunate timing," commented Jeremy White, product editor at Wired UK magazine.


The UK firm hoping to take on Google's driverless cars

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This week we speak to Stan Boland, founder and chief executive of UK driverless car company Five AI. As firms around the world race to develop self-driving cars, Stan Boland is betting that British brain power can beat American and Chinese cash. A veteran technology entrepreneur, the 58-year-old launched Five AI in 2016. Since then it has been moving as quickly as possible to design a driverless car that - the hope is - will at some point in the future gain regulatory approval to take to the roads without someone being behind the wheel as a human failsafe. The problem is that, compared with US giants Google, Uber and Tesla, Five AI is a tiny start-up company with only a fraction of the funding that its rivals' driverless car projects are receiving.