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Future Tech

  • Pictures: the ‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ lights up social media

    There's something mythical about the Moon -- that little spherical ball roughly the size of Australia revolving around the Earth more or less once a month. Tonight, it's the centerpiece of a particularly storied event. 31 January 2018 sees the month's second full moon, commonly known as the "blue" moon. It coincides with the perigee of the Moon -- its closest point to Earth -- which is also known as the "supermoon". And finally, because of its positioning in relation to the Earth and the Sun, some will see a total lunar eclipse, and a reddish-tinted Moon as it passes through the Earth's...

  • Falcon Heavy: world’s most powerful rocket gets launch date

    The Falcon Heavy rocket launch has been long-awaited, but it's seen numerous delays. In fact, SpaceX initially planned for a first test flight as long ago as 2013. Now, the rocket, expected to be the most powerful since the Apollo programme's Saturn V, has received a firm launch date of 6 February. The date comes from SpaceX founder Elon Musk himself, via Twitter. Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy. Easy viewing from the public causeway. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2018 According to Space Flight Insider, the launch is expected to...

  • AI will understand your emotions better than your family come 2022

    It's 2018 everyone. Congrats, you've made it one step further into the future laden with emotion-sensing artificial intelligence, virtual personal assistants and potentially longer lifespans. This is according to research company Gartner's latest report, aptly titled Predicts 2018: Personal Devices. While not specifically focussing on the year ahead, the report does highlight what humans can expect to see from the next decade's wave of technology. And it's slightly creepy. By 2022, "personal devices will know more about an individual's emotional state than his or her own family" suggests Gartner, accounting for the sophistication of the development behind artificial intelligence and its...

  • Still using BBM? You can now request an Uber via platform

    BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has seen far better days in emerging markets, as WhatsApp usurps it as the favoured instant messaging platform. That hasn't stopped a major announcement this week, as BBM operator Creative Media Works announces that you can now request an Uber via the IM service. The move will let BBM users on Android and iOS book Uber trips via the IM app's Discover tab, an emailed press statement reads. The partnership sees BBM harness the m.uber.com portal to book rides. "When launched from the Discover menu, the new Uber service asks riders to sign in with their mobile number or...

  • Uber settles medical record lawsuit with woman raped by driver

    Uber has capped off its terrible 2017 by settling a lawsuit with a woman who accused top executives of illegally obtaining her medical records after she was raped by a driver in New Delhi, India in 2014. The anonymous US resident sued the company for intrusion into private affairs, public disclosure of private facts, and defamation. The woman claimed that then-CEO Travis Kalanick, president of business in Asia Eric Alexander, and senior vice president of business Emil Michael all believed her rape to be a conspiracy by rival companies. Her lawyer alleged that the company sought her medical records in an attempt to...

  • Brett Herron live-tweets ‘horrific’ Metrorail journey across Cape Town

    How difficult is it to take a train from Khayelitsha to Cape Town on a Thursday morning? Very. At least that's what MayCo member for transport Brett Herron discovered today. Live-tweeting his morning fact-finding commute to understand the conditions travellers face on Metrorail's trains, Herron was left "horrified & angry". The day began well enough. #TrainStories starting my day at Nolungile. Train delayed. Commuters abandoning train and heading for taxis “ayikho”! #Metrorail pic.twitter.com/6nf8LO0dPZ — Brett Herron (@brettherron) November 30, 2017 But the mood soon changed. "Commuters telling me to be prepared to cling onto the roof of the train it will be so overcrowded," Herron...

  • This Indian airport handled close to 1000 flights in a single day

    We're not sure what you were up to Friday night, but an airport in India had no time for partying. In fact, Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport this weekend broke the record for the most number of flights handled in a single day by a single airport. That new record stands at 969. The number includes both landings and take-offs within a 24 hour period recorded between 5.30am on Friday and 5.30am on Saturday. Overall, the airport processed more than 40 flights per hour, besting its own previous record of 935 in 24 hours. And more impressive still is the record in spite of the airport's layout....

  • London’s red buses to run on coffee waste

    London's iconic red buses will soon assimilate into the lives of Londoners by running, at least partially, on coffee. On Monday this week, a company called Bio-bean teamed up with oil giant Shell to introduce a small amount of oil extracted from coffee waste into the diesel and biofuel mixture already used by the buses. The company will produce 6000 litres of fuel a year -- less than 0.01% of the London buses' total use in 2015. But the city's authorities want to increase the number of buses fueled by a blend of diesel and biofuels. It's looking at using cooking oil waste, tallow (a form...

  • Interstellar object seen in solar system for first time

    Astronomers around the world have rushed to observe the first confirmed interstellar object in our solar system, taking the form of a cigar-shaped asteroid. The object, dubbed 'Oumuamua (Hawaiian for "messenger from afar, arriving first"), measures up to 400 metres long and could be up to ten times longer than it is wide, NASA wrote on its website. "That aspect ratio is greater than that of any asteroid or comet observed in our solar system to date. While its elongated shape is quite surprising, and unlike asteroids seen in our solar system, it may provide new clues into how other solar systems...

  • 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...