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A company responsible for developing some of the first electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles unveiled its plans to bring flying taxis to the UK within the next decade. Speaking at an event as part of Leicester Business Festival, Derby-based VRCO Ltd explained that it is working to bring its NeoXcraft into production with the East Midlands forming a world-breaking test environment.

At the event, hosted at the MIRA Technology Institute, VRCO outlined how flying on short journeys is likely to become mainstream in the decades ahead and, by 2040, heliports and vertiports on top of buildings will become a feature of the landscape. The company is developing this new technology as autonomy in the sky moves closer and public acceptance grows.

Speakers at the conference on the ‘Future of Human Mobility and Regional Connectivity’ organised by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP) and East Midlands Airport, attracted a high number of delegates interested in finding out more about the future of transport, how vehicles and their usage will change, and the opportunities and threats surrounding the new technology.

Kevin Harris, LLEP Chair welcomed delegates to the event.  He said: “Today’s speakers have shared their insights into some of the exciting transport technologies that we will be using in our daily lives, in the not too distant future.

“As LLEP Chair I have seen first-hand how significant investments in infrastructure and emerging technologies can grease the wheels of economic growth and prosperity. With the rapid pace of development in new automated and electric vehicle technology, our region has a

golden opportunity to benefit our communities and businesses.”

Shammi Raichura from Uber outlined its major challenge to promote car sharing to help reduce the impact of carbon emissions. Uber, which now boasts five million active users in the UK alone, wants to help improve the environment by convincing drivers to ‘replace their car with their smartphone’. Uber’s plans include rolling out its Jump e-bike service beyond London and introducing Uber Bus to the UK to provide smaller scale, more efficient passenger transport that could save money for local government.

Delegates were reminded that connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology also brings challenges. Discussing issues around cyber security, Dr Madeline Cheah Cyber Security Innovation Lead at from HORIBA MIRA highlighted how threat levels increase as burgeoning connectivity brings greater risks to transport systems and vehicles.

Lisa Bingley, Director of Operations for the MIRA Technology Institute said, “It has been fantastic to welcome so many people from the automotive sector and beyond to this event as part of the Leicester Business Festival. It strikes me that the level of innovation is really going to challenge the skills of the existing workforce and this is where the MTI is perfectly placed to help. In terms of cyber security alone, it is predicted that there will be three million vacancies by 2021. Our strong links with industry are helping to bring the very latest thinking to CPD for businesses throughout the supply chain.”

The MTI is an innovative collaboration between education and industry led by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College designed to address skills shortages in the new disruptive technologies surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles and electric cars. Working with its further and higher education partners and HORIBA MIRA, the MTI offers a full spectrum of training opportunities from apprenticeships to bespoke and commercial courses for businesses from across the sector, from SMEs to large organisations.

It provides access to a unique skills escalator, enabling progress to higher and degree level apprenticeships and beyond. This means that, for the first time, individuals can start an apprenticeship at Level 2 or above and progress to PhD level with the same training partnership.

As a dedicated resource for the automotive industry, the training is highly relevant and can be accessed by the full range and size of businesses within the sector including Tier 1 automotive businesses within the supply chain, and major international corporates.

MIRA Technology Institute was built with a £9.5m allocation from the Local Growth Fund, a pot of government funding awarded to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP) for projects that benefit the local area and economy. The MTI is located within the MIRA Technology Park Enterprise Zone near Nuneaton and Hinckley.

For more information, organisations with an interest in training and CPD can visit the MTI website, call 024 7693 5680 or email enquiries@miratechnologyinstitute.co.uk