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Future Tech

  • SpaceX won’t launch Zuma into space tonight

    SpaceX's secretive Zuma payload will not be sent into space aboard a Falcon 9 rocket tonight, the company tweeted. "Standing down on Zuma mission to take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer," the company wrote around 1am SAST Friday. Standing down on Zuma mission to take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer. — SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 16, 2017 The payload, which isn't a hat-tip to the president of South Africa, was commissioned by Northrop Grumman, a US defence technology company. What said payload actually includes remains a mystery. Nevertheless, no new launch...

  • Uber-rival Lyft goes international, expands to Toronto

    For the first time in its history, on-demand ride-hailing company Lyft will expand to a city beyond the United States. On Monday the firm announced plans to jump the northern border to Canada. It's first destination will be the country's largest city, Toronto. "We’ve been looking forward to taking our brand of ridesharing international for some time, and we’re super pumped to share this with our close friends up north," Lyft wrote in a statement. The company has partnered with other ride-hailing companies outside the US, namely China's DiDi Chuxing and India's Ola, but its name wasn't associated with that expansion. The move...

  • UberEATS adds five-star ratings, tweaks recommendations and faves

    A star rating system, personalised recommendations and an improved layout for favourites is heading to the UberEATS app, the company announced Thursday. In similar vein to Uber's five-star rating system, users' ratings for restaurants will now be visible on the app appearing below the establishment's description. "Sharing ratings is a win-win, as restaurants can use this real-time feedback, including detailed comments on their Restaurant Manager dashboard to grow their business," added the company's product managers Ambika Krishnamachar and Calvin Lee. The company also confirmed that users will now receive "personalised menu recommendations" for each establishment they browse within...

  • NASA, Uber are serious about bringing flying taxis to cities by 2023

    In an unlikely partnership, NASA has sought the services of Uber to build air control software that will manage the flying taxis of the future. Yes, flying taxis. The partnership, announced today at WebSummit in Lisbon, is not beyond Uber's personal ambitions either. In April 2017, the company announced plans to launch a flying taxi programme -- dubbed UberAIR -- in Dubai and Dallas by 2020. Now Los Angeles will also be added to the roster. Uber has also previously toyed with using helicopters in Cape Town in what was more a marketing stunt than feasible city transport solution, but the aircraft Uber...

  • Uber’s wildly odd ad will resonate with Capetonians stuck in traffic daily

    Uber's first advertisement highlighting the plight of commuters in southeast Asia may just trigger a nerve for those stuck in traffic in Cape Town and Johannesburg daily. Filmed in Bangkok with 200-odd extras, the company's ad trades automobiles for Flintstone-inspired box cars. But that doesn't mean there's any less chaos. From drivers stealing parking spots, to others cutting in ahead of lanes, to those select few who believe one-ways are in fact safe for bidirectional traffic: the video is practically what every road user experiences every day. Perhaps with less cardboard. While the ad is undoubtedly stupid, remarkably silly and deliberately extra,...

  • Taxify launches in Port Elizabeth, its fourth South African city

    Estonian on-demand transport company Taxify has this weekend began operations in its fourth South African city, Port Elizabeth. Its service has previously been available in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, alongside 25 other cities in 20 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Its latest expansion ensures that it joins Uber in the Eastern Cape city. But Taxify operations manager Linda Mahloko assured potential drivers that working for the company may be more lucrative than with other on-demand services. "Drivers can expect to earn at least 14% more when driving with Taxify compared to competitors," Mahloko said in a press release. "Taxify achieves...

  • Vodacom’s NB-IoT network is now live in Gauteng

    Vodacom's first commercially available Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) network is now live in Gauteng. This announcement is the latest in a string of IoT plays made by the company this year. The NB-IoT network, the company hopes, will accelerate the growth of IoT in South Africa by allowing customers to build and run Low Power Wide Area network (LPWAN) applications. LPWAN is slower than the likes of WiFi, but covers much greater areas and allows for devices to be connected more efficiently. In September 2017, Vodacom announced its three-millionth device IoT connection, and currently sees around 55 000 new devices registered on its network each...

  • Uber Driver app adds ‘no thanks’ button, rating protection & more

    Uber has been in the news a fair bit recently, from protests involving metered taxis to UberEATS finally launched in Durban. But the company's latest set of tweaks is aimed at improving operations for drivers. It today announced a number of features heading to the Uber Driver app, which the company claims will "make it even easier for driver-partners across South Africa to choose when, where, and how they drive". "Over the last few months, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to and engaging with over 12 000 driver-partners across South Africa, hearing what they care about when using the...

  • UberEATS now available in Durban’s northern suburbs

    UberEATS is now available in Durban, the company announced Friday. After launching in Johannesburg last year November, and stretching to Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Pretoria this year, the food delivery service is now available for those on South Africa's east coast. "UberEATS will be officially launched at the Botanical Gardens in Durban and from today, foodies from Durban North to Umhlanga and Ballito will now be able to indulge in their favourite food from over 70 restaurants by ordering through the UberEATS app," the company noted in a press release. The service currently delivers "across 1422 square kilometers, to over 35,000 unique...

  • Johannesburg highways disrupted by metered taxi protest, Uber cars torched

    Traffic along Gauteng's R24 route was brought to a standstill this morning, after metered taxi drivers parked their cars on the road in protest. The R24 and R21 are two of Johannesburg and the East Rand's most important routes, linking key Johannesburg suburbs with OR Tambo International Airport. This morning from as early as 6am however, the roads were barely accessible. #TaxiProtest and #HighwayProtest began trending on Twitter across Gauteng Friday morning, as users tweeted pictures of the blockage, and information channels reported on the incident. According to police, two Uber cars were also set alight. This also comes after a spike in...

  • Uber debuts its very own credit card

    Tech companies very rarely remain in their niche. Over time, we've seen Google become a hardware company, Microsoft transform into a creator of Android apps, and now Uber is introducing a credit card. Yes, that's right. Uber, the on-demand transportation company, is introducing a credit card. Powered by Barclays and Visa, the Uber Card will operate similarly to other credit cards. Only available in the US for now, users can sign up via the app. According to TechCrunch, the card will be available to use immediately on Uber services once credit worthiness is approved, and a physical card will be issued at...

  • UCT scientists find ‘first for Africa’ dinosaur footprints in Lesotho

    A team that included scientists from the University of Cape Town has discovered a new set of footprint fossils that suggests a large carnivorous dinosaur roamed southern Africa around 200-million years ago. The three-toed dinosaur footprints were discovered on a dirt road near the Lesotho capital of Maseru, measuring 57cm in length and 50cm in breadth. Moreover, the size of the footprint suggests that this dinosaur was about eight metres from head to tail, or around four metres shorter than the tyrannosaurus rex. The discovery is a "first for Africa", noted Lara Sciscio, a Postdoctoral research fellow in Geological Sciences, at the...

  • Cape Town’s new buses will be all-electric come 2025

    Cape Town, along with 11 other major world cities, has vowed to shirk purchasing fossil fuel-powered buses in favour of electric models for its inner city transport networks by 2025. The cities, which include Auckland, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan and Seattle, signed the agreement which is an extension of the already established C40 Clean Bus Declaration Act. C40 cities, of which Cape Town is a member, is an initiative that aims to reduce harmful emissions in city centres and promote green practices. The agreement also ensures that "major areas of the city" will be declared...

  • Infographic shows North Korea’s scary nuclear capabilities

    North Korea's ballistic missile programme has stepped up in a big way under leader Kim Jong-un, as tensions between it and the United States continue to boil. It would be foolish to suggest the hermit kingdom has an arsenal equal to the USA and Russia, but it would be equally foolish to dismiss their capabilities. Now, we've come across a rather fascinating infographic by ABC, showing us what it could (and can) be capable of. North Korea's short-range ballistic missiles are its most reliable category, capable of targeting all of South Korea and Osaka, Japan, for starters (as seen in the featured...

  • Uber’s Sexual Harassment: The Movie is on its way

    In February this year, Uber was rocked with a sexual harassment scandal that resulted in the eventual resignation of founder Travis Kalanick as CEO -- and soon we'll see it play out in theatres. Susan J Fowler, the ex-Uber engineer who detailed her tumultuous tenure at the company in a blog post, is teaming up with production company Good Universe (The Disaster Artist, Bad Neighbours) and Hidden Figures screenwriter Allison Schroeder to bring the story to screen, Deadline reports. The film was pitched with the title Disruptors, and Deadline describes it as a mix between of Erin Brockovich and The Social Network. Sexual harassment is currently a major talking point in Hollywood, as producers and directors...