Tech Tent: Will better batteries persuade us to go electric?

Tech Tent: Will better batteries persuade us to go electric?

This week, the UK government announced that sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030 - just one signal among many around the world that a major shift to low-carbon motoring is under way.

In practice, that means millions of people are going to have to be persuaded to choose an electric car - and on this week's Tech Tent we explore how improvements in battery technology can make that happen.

Coronavirus: Is virtual reality tourism about to take off?

Coronavirus: Is virtual reality tourism about to take off?

For many people, a trip to Germany's fairytale-like Neuschwanstein castle, the Republic of Ireland's stunning Cliffs of Moher, or the pristine waters of the Maldives are a bucket list ambition.

Plans for these and other international trips in 2020 were brought to an abrupt halt by the Covid-19 pandemic. Around the world, once-crowded sights lay dormant, with hotels empty and not a tourist in sight.

The statistics speak for themselves. On 13 October, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said that international traffic "has all but disappeared", with airlines carrying only about 10% of normal levels.

By Iata's estimate, Covid-caused disruptions put more than 41 million jobs at risk across the travel and tourism sector.

Amazon spends $500m on bonuses for Christmas staff

Amazon spends $500m on bonuses for Christmas staff

Amazon is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on bonuses for Christmas staff after sales at the online giant soared during the pandemic.

Full-time warehouse workers in the UK and the US will receive £300 or $300, with £150 or $150 for part-time staff.

The money, $500m in total, will go to staff working between 1-31 December.

The firm, run by Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, praised staff for "serving customers' essential needs" during the pandemic.

In a blog post, Dave Clark, senior vice president of Amazon Worldwide Operations, wrote: "I'm grateful to our teams who continue to play a vital role serving their communities.

"As we head into the peak of the holiday season, we want to share our appreciation through another special recognition bonus, totalling more than $500 million for our front-line employees."

Inventors design high-tech helmets for Covid protection

Inventors design high-tech helmets for Covid protection

For the past two months inventor Yezin Al-Qaysi has been riding the Toronto subway in Canada wearing a huge black "mad helmet".

The hazmat (hazardous materials) helmet completely encloses his head and upper torso, and has a visor that extends all the way down to his chest.

On the back is a battery-powered fan and filter respirator system that purifies air that is sucked in, and pushes "stale" air out.

Looking like a dystopian figure straight out of an apocalyptic movie, the 32-year-old unsurprisingly gets some strong reactions.

"Somebody screamed: 'Where did you get that!' and many people approach me out of curiosity," he says.

"Others are amazed.. They certainly don't laugh, but even if they do, I cannot see their mouths because everyone is wearing masks."

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