Tech Digest daily roundup: Virgin proposes flying taxi service


Virgin Atlantic is exploring whether it could launch a flying taxi service as part of a partnership with Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace. The airline suggests electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL) could fly from towns to major airports. Vertical Aerospace is conducting test flights of its aircraft this year. One expert said the proposal was “less radical” than those of other air taxi companies, but argued there would be challenges ahead. Several companies have promoted the idea of autonomous “flying taxis” that could pick passengers up from rooftops in city centres and take them wherever they would like to go. Virgin Atlantic’s suggestion is slightly tamer. It has proposed that an eVTOL aircraft could pick people up from a city such as Cambridge and fly them to a major airport such as London Heathrow. BBC 

Good news for gamers all around – PS5 sessions just got a lot more colourful. For the first time, the DualSense controller is now available in new colours. It’s only been rolled out in white in the past, but gamers will now also be able to choose from a Cosmic Red (pictured) and Midnight Black. According to PlayStation, both colours are said to be inspired by outer space, with the former being a take on the shades of red found “throughout the cosmos”, while the latter’s detailing of black and grey is intended to reflect “how we view space through the night sky”. Digital Spy 

Google is offering U.K. regulators a role overseeing its phasing out of ad-tracking technology from its Chrome browser, in a package of commitments the tech giant is proposing to apply globally to head off a competition investigation. The U.K. competition watchdog has been investigating Google’s proposals to remove so-called third-party cookies over concerns they would undermine digital ad competition and entrench the company’s market power. To address the concerns, Google on Friday offered a set of commitments including giving the Competition and Markets Authority an oversight role as the company designs and develops a replacement technology. AP News

Freeze-dried mouse sperm stored onboard the International Space Station (ISS) for almost six years did not undergo any DNA damage and continued to produce “healthy space pups”, a new study has found. According to the scientists, the findings shed more light on whether mammals, including humans, can reproduce in space. Combined with experiments on the ground exposing mice sperm to X rays, the research, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, found that mammalian sperm cells could be preserved aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for roughly 200 years. Independent

Britain’s contact-tracing app is expected to be needed until spring 2022, according to the terms of a contract drawn up between the Health Secretary and its developers. The NHS Covid-19 App, which uses Bluetooth to detect “close contacts” between two smartphones, was launched in September last year as a way of speeding up manual contact-tracing of coronavirus cases. The contract is the clearest signal that the use of digital contact-tracing is set to continue long after the vast majority of the UK population has been vaccinated twice. According to a contract between the Department of Health and Zühlke Engineering, the Swiss company that develops and maintains the app, Zühlke will keep the app running until at least September this year for a fee of £10.2 million. Telegraph 

A third Ubisoft E3 reveal has leaked. According to The Riff Repeater, the latest Gibson email blast fully revealed Rocksmith+, which apparently goes into PC closed beta today. Rocksmith is Ubisoft’s guitar teaching game. In April 2020, developer Ubisoft San Francisco announced DLC for the original Rocksmith had come to an end, with the team moving on to a new project. Perhaps Rocksmith+ is it. Watch on YouTube. According to Gibson’s email, Rocksmith+ is “an interactive music learning subscription service” that “takes the guesswork out of music mastery”. This new version of the game, the email reads, lets you “rock out with your favourite Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer models”. Eurogamer 

Chris Price
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