autonomous cars

Prepare for take-off: flying cars edge closer to the skies (and roads!)

Prepare for take-off: flying cars edge closer to the skies

At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, there was a glimmer of hope for anyone who thinks flying cars represent the future of personal transport. A company called AeroMobil, based in Slovakia, displayed its latest vision of a winged wonder. The good news is, thanks to advances in technology, it stands a healthy chance of reaching the runway.

Then there’s the news that this week, Dubai completed a test flight of the world’s first pilotless flying taxi, developed by Volocopter. Meanwhile Uber, the technology company that has disrupted the taxi industry, has signed deals with five companies that are developing air taxis and momentum is building.

The AeroMobil might be eye-wateringly expensive, but the market is surprisingly competitive and some big names from worldwide industry are joining the race, meaning costs are likely to fall. Here we look at how the flying car is spreading its wings, with four of the most promising models from around the world.

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Future of motoring: the paying car key and clever steering wheel

car key

As long as you’ve got your car key, contactless payments will be possible (Picture © DS Automobiles)

They’re parts of everyday motoring that we’ve taken for granted for years. But very soon we could look at our car key and steering wheel in a completely different light. French car company DS Automobiles has come up with a key that doubles as a payment card. And Jaguar Land Rover is working on a steering wheel that could revolutionise the way we own cars.

How do you pay with a car key?

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Drivers still suspicious of driverless cars

Google is hoping this driverless car could be the future of motoring. Drivers might have other ideas…

Drivers are struggling to come to terms with driverless cars. Recent research shows that people are suspicious of giving up control of their car and relying on computers.

The studies have been carried out for technology company Continental and insurer Direct Line. These reveal people are struggling to see the real-world benefits in driverless cars. The Continental report claims 37 per cent of people say humans are becoming too reliant on technology. Meanwhile 36 per cent think there are too many risks associated with the technology, such as it being hacked.

The Direct Line study backs this up. It found drivers equally split over whether the roads will be made safer or more dangerous. And a piece of work done on driverless cars reveals that we’re unlikely to reap any real road safety rewards from the technology until every car on the road is driverless. It seems the road towards autonomous vehicles is already a rocky one.

What do we really think of driverless cars?

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Autonomous cars: we answer the 10 most important questions

autonomous cars

This may be what driving is like – one day (Picture © Volvo)

Autonomous cars are just around the corner. Or are they? It’s the tech everyone’s talking about, yet the reality is we know very little about it. And what we do know is confusingly bound up in reams of legislation. So, let’s try to find answers to 10 of the most obvious questions.

What are autonomous cars?

These are cars that use electronics to control the driving process. But there’s a difference between an autonomous or self-driving car and a driverless car. A self-driving car needs a driver at its helm. A driverless car doesn’t. While a driverless car must be self-driving, a self-driving car isn’t always driverless.

Will autonomous cars stop driving for fun?

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Driverless cars: Queen’s Speech will help make them reality in 10 years

Driverless cars

Some Volvos now have Pilot Assist which takes complete control at low speeds (Picture © Volvo)

Driverless cars will be a reality within a decade and a proposed new bill that’s part of the Queen’s Speech will pave the way for it. The Queen has revealed legislation that will be introduced to allow driverless cars to be insured with regular policies. The government hopes it will result in cars that are autonomous (control themselves) becoming a common sight by 2025.

Currently, the insurance industry believes 94 per cent of crashes are caused by human error. Driverless cars would cut this figure significantly. Independent organisation Thatcham Research, which works with the insurers to assess how expensive cars are to repair, has put together this timeline on how we’ll move into a world of driverless cars. Continue reading