Tech Digest daily round up: Rolls-Royce invests £80 million in electric aircraft


Rolls-Royce will invest £80m in energy storage technology that will boost the range of electric aircraft. The jet-engine maker said its investment in energy storage systems (ESS) will create 300 jobs by the end of the decade, helping to power both fully electric and hybrid aircraft designs. The battery pack designs are aimed at vertical takeoff and landing “urban mobility” vehicles, often dubbed “flying taxis”, and small fixed-wing aircraft with up to 19 seats for short commuter flights. Rolls is trying to break the speed record for an electrically powered aircraft, aiming to break the 300mph barrier with its light aircraft Spirit of Innovation. This aircraft uses a battery designed by Rolls with partner Electroflight. It has also invested in Vertical Aerospace – a flying taxi company that is planning to build 1,000 vertical take off and landing aircraft. Telegraph  

The government should offer vouchers to low-income homes to encourage the take-up of ultra-fast gigabit broadband, a report suggests. The Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (Gigatag) also recommended employers offer staff discounts on the service. The government aims to make gigabit-capable broadband available to 85% of the UK by 2025. Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said he would consider the suggestions. “We believe passionately in making sure everyone can feel the benefits of these lightning-fast speeds, and I will be carefully considering Gigatag’s welcome proposals for boosting consumer take-up,” he said. BBC 

A trial has shown a new, experimental drug to treat COVID-19 in the worst-hit patients could stop people dying. The anti-viral treatment by Regeneron, called REGEN-COV, was found to save lives when given to patients with severe symptoms of the virus who had not mounted a natural antibody response of their own. About 10,000 people took part in a UK trial of the drug between September last year and May this year and it was discovered, out of those who were randomly given it, fewer than expected had to be put on a ventilator. The duration of their hospital stay was also cut. Sky News 

Elon Musk is poised to fulfil his promise of becoming a “homeless billionaire” by selling the last of his mansions. The Tesla chief executive announced that his home in the Bay Area of San Francisco, which he kept only to rent out for events, is going on the market for about $37 million. “Decided to sell my last remaining house. Just needs to go to a large family who will live there. It’s a special place,” he said. It has ten bedrooms, a ballroom, a formal banquet room, a flower-arranging room and a library. He has sold two other mansions in California. The Times 

Microsoft is widely expected to unveil the next version of Windows at an event later this month. Called Windows 11, it’ll be the first major update to Windows in six years, apart from the twice-annual feature updates Microsoft rolls out to its flagship operating system. Now, the upcoming operating system has leaked online. A Baidu user posted two screenshots of Windows 11 on Tuesday, revealing a Windows 10X-like interface and central Start menu with rounded corners. Although  it’s not a giant visual change from Windows 10, there are interface tweaks including more rounded corners, snap controls that let you pin a window to a spot in your screen, a new Widgets icon in the taskbar, an integrated Xbox app, and a new Windows setup experience. Pocket-Lint 


Chris Price
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