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All aboard the robot road: Will self-driving cars be taking us to the pub or pension office?

If you read my blog posts you’ll probably be able to gather that I quite like cars (but dislike some of their impacts). I think about this when I watch my small son vroom his cars around our living room – is there something innate in the mind of small boys that attracts them to cars, or is it something that car loving fathers like me unwittingly encourage?

The fact that small boys still make “vroom vroom” sounds with their cars speaks volumes about the (lack of) progress in how cars are powered. My cars vroomed, as did my father’s and so did his father’s. Lightening McQueen, the hero of Disney’s critically derided yet widely loved ‘Cars’ franchise, is most definitely packing a big V8, even if his latest nemesis Jackson Storm has some kind of hybrid system.

I’ve previously written about electric cars, and even if my son’s first car isn’t all electric (it’s probably rolling off a production line about now) I’d wager he’ll own a few zero emission cars before he hits middle age. A bigger …

Electric Cars Spark Into Life, But Can We Really Swap Pump for Plug by 2040?

Did you hear about the man who ran over his neighbour with an electric car? He was convicted of assault with battery.

Expect to hear more terrible jokes like this, as the UK Government yesterday pledged to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. The UK joins the French Government, who have the same deadline to bring an end to cars powered by the venerable suck-squeeze-bang-blow.

This pledge is nothing new: it just builds on a similar plan outlined in 2011, with the language firmed up from an ‘ambition to end the sale’ to ‘will end the sale’. The big question has to be whether this policy is realistic. Luckily for us 2017 has seen quite a few opinions on this subject.

In the furthest reaches of blue corner sits Stanford University economist Tony Seba, who thinks that all cars sold by 2025 will be self-driving electric Uber pods. On similar (but less extreme) lines sits the car manufacture Volvo, who say that all of their cars will be electric by 2019 (although this includes hy…

Opportunity and Uncertainty: Exploring the Transition to a Low Carbon World

“EUREKA!”, I cried, jumping from the bath. No, I hadn’t re-discovered the theory of displacement, but I had come up with an innovative solution to the climate crisis.

From my bathroom window I could see a huge flock of seagulls squawking, swooping and beating their wings. Tens of thousands more live in the English coastal city of Brighton that I call home, attracted by fast-food munching tourists and our less than wonderful refuse service. Experimental high altitude kites are now generating renewable electricity – surely, we could do something similar here and power the world with 100% renewable seagull energy!

The shortcomings of my idea soon become clear. Aside from the obvious practical and ethical issues, the fact remains that, whilst common in Brighton, seagulls are comparatively rare in the UK. Indeed, they’re ‘red listed’ with their numbers in decline. The dream of a seagull powered world, or even UK, was not to be.

This bird-brained idea highlights a more serious challenge fo…