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Carpooling: one of the futures of moblity

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Autonomous cars will be with us very soon, and in addition to being safer and better for the environment, CHRIS MEGAN, CEO and co-Founder of uGoMyWay, believes there could be less congestion as we start carpooling.

There would be something gratifying about guessing the future, particularly when it is patently counterintuitive.  Isn’t carpooling all about that quaint 70’s notion that we could all reduce our petrol costs and save the planet if only we could remember a lesson taught to all school children on their first day at school?

School children wouldn’t need to share if there were two swings available and only two school children.  But who is going to design a playground with 40 swings in it, so that no child is kept waiting? Instead, they are taught, that to be fair, we must share so that every child gets a turn….

Moving this simple metaphor along…at the turn of the last century (not too long ago), road authorities across the world, realised they could not keep building roads until the headquarters of urban central – our cities – ended up with 40 lanes in each direction on highways, not yet floating in the sky but tethered to the available land mass.  So, they capped it at three.

Consequently, the road network now grinds to a halt, frequently, and it would seem that once again, we all need to be taught how to ‘share’, to make best use of the roads that we have at our disposal.

Urban mobility in Cape Town is a crisis on the brink of disaster that will compromise economic development and is now threatening personal wellbeing.  I cannot put that strongly enough.  Time is a luxury we can no longer afford.  The question is, how could this have happened and been allowed to get to this stage?

One shock to any system rarely causes a disaster and the first shock wasn’t a shock at all.  Nearly every urban planner knows that populations urbanise and that people tend to gravitate to where there is work. However, being charitable, the extent of population growth in certain cities may have come as a surprise.

In Cape Town, the second shock was more nuanced.  A number of buildings in the CBD were overdue for modernisation.  This process allowed for more parking capacity to be accommodated by building upward.  Why not rebuild your 32-storey head office with 10 storeys of parking? After all, the building will have the same footprint at ground level.  At the same time, old areas of the city such as the Harbour, the Foreshore or the Silo District were repurposed as new retail or office space and again, furnished with ample parking for all the new staff and customers. Even more nuanced, developers want to develop where rents are accelerating, which leads to a switch from out of town development to excessive densification in CBDs.

We can add one last shock to this system by the name of the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa (PRASA).  If only our passenger train network had responded positively to the economic development our city enjoys, this story could have had a very different ending.  Instead we have a 400% increase in train cancellations.  15% of all trains never show up on the entire network and only 65% of trains arrive on time. Overcrowding is so dire, the space on the outside of the carriages is now full.  In terms of safety, the situation is even worse and wholly untenable.

Overcoming nearly two decades of mismanagement, excessive bureaucracy and institutionalised corruption, PRASA has a 20-year plan to replace its 50-year-old infrastructure and rolling stock – costing a whopping R170 billion – but the likelihood is that the situation will get worse for a good few years, before it gets any better.

Any one of these shocks might have accelerated the City of Cape Town from crisis to disaster.  The combined effects of the three will undoubtedly lead to a fourth, namely the collapse of the road network into chronic congestion and daily gridlock (nothing like you are currently experiencing, much, much worse, no matter how many video-camera-wearing traffic officers there are enforcing basic road manners, although this is something…).

Despite this real and dire situation, the solution to traffic congestion is actually very simple.

Put more people into less cars!

Once again, we will have to be taught how to share, because there aren’t too many other plans available.  The faster we admit this, the sooner we might begin to avert the disaster.

Meanwhile, autonomous (driverless) vehicles are already with us…well they are currently in Singapore, but will be making an appearance here sooner than we think.  The advances in driverless technology are unstoppable and will likely replace existing private vehicles in all cities across the world in the next 15 – 20 years.  These cars (or pods) will have electric motors, rather than combustion engines, reducing their complexity from more than 200 parts to less than 15.  They will be very cheap to manufacture and significantly cheaper to maintain.  They will also run on battery technology charged by wind, solar or other renewable sources, far cheaper than fossil fuels and much better for the environment.

Ironically, these pods do not need to be parked in over densified areas, so cities could repurpose all that parking space as housing, closer to places of work, reducing the burden on over congested transportation still further, and contributing to solving the housing crisis.

This type of vehicle could operate for less than R1/km and carry four or five passengers from their doorstep, to their place of work, reliably and safely, every day for less than the price of a bus ticket.

This technology will not only challenge the concept of private car ownership, but will revolutionise all other forms of public transport and urban planning. Transport oriented development if ever there was.

Interesting therefore, that the quaint 70’s notion of carpooling and sharing scarce resources, will not only provide a solution to congestion for the next five to ten years, but will also emerge as the transport option of choice in the future of urban mobility.

Government has asked for radical economic transformation, but the point is, we can have as many ideas and set-up as many businesses as we like, if the people who need to run it and work it, cannot get there, we will not move forward.  So, what is impeding Government (local and national) from rubber stamping a framework around carpooling to get South Africa moving?

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YouTube Music announces Smart Downloads, SA playlists

The service has introduced Smart Downloads which takes allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically.

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The latest updates from YouTube Music, for subscribers of its Music Premium and Premium services, include a new feature that allows users to switch seamlessly between a song and its music video for an uninterrupted experience.

It has also introduced Smart Downloads which takes the work out of downloading music, allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically. YouTube Music has also announced new playlists for South Africa. 

The updates all reflect features that are popular on the global leader in music streaming, Spotify, and that have been key to its growth.

YouTube said in a statement on Friday: “Imagine listening to a new track by your favourite artist in the YouTube Music app and having the ability to seamlessly switch over to watch the music video – no pauses, no interruptions, just a simple tap that keeps the music flowing. This standout new feature from YouTube Music allows YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium subscribers to make a seamless transition between a song and its music video for uninterrupted listening and/or watching. Whether you’re in the mood for listening or watching (or a little of both)… it’s all here – no app switching required.”

With Smart Downloads, YouTube Music automatically saves music at night, when connected to Wi-Fi, helping subscribers to use less mobile data, enjoy a smoother updating experience and save up to 500 songs offline using Liked Songs playlist as well as other playlists and albums. 


Previously, music lovers could use the Offline Mixtape feature to download up to 100 songs, specifically chosen for them based on what they listened to most on the platform. Now, with Smart Downloads, they select the number of songs they would like automatically downloaded by toggling their YouTube Music Settings. This means YouTube Music Premium subscribers with Smart Downloads enabled on their mobile devices can now access hundreds of tracks regardless of connectivity. 

This feature is currently available on Android, with plans to bring it to iOS in the future.

Click here to read more about YouTube Music playlists, and find out what is inside them.

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Make cars, not waste

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Jaguar Land Rover is trialling an innovative recycling process which converts plastic waste into a new premium grade material that could feature on future vehicles. 

It’s estimated that the amount of waste plastic is predicted to exceed 12 million tonnes globally by 2050*. Today, not all of this plastic can be recycled for use in automotive applications – especially in vehicle parts that are required to meet the most exacting safety and quality standards.

Working in conjunction with chemical company, BASF, Jaguar Land Rover is part of a pilot project called ChemCycling that upcycles domestic waste plastic, otherwise destined for landfill or incinerators, into a new high-quality material. 

The waste plastic is transformed to pyrolysis oil using a thermochemical process. This secondary raw material is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a replacement for fossil resources; ultimately producing a new premium grade that replicates the high quality and performance of ‘virgin’ plastics. Importantly, it can be tempered and coloured making it the ideal sustainable solution for designing the next-generation dashboards and exterior-surfaces in Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Jaguar Land Rover and BASF are currently testing the pilot phase material in a Jaguar I-PACE prototype front-end carrier overmoulding to verify it meets the same stringent safety requirements of the existing original part.

Pending the outcome of the trials and progression in taking chemical recycling to market readiness, adoption of the new premium material would mean Jaguar Land Rover could use domestically derived recycled plastic content throughout its cars without any compromise to quality or safety performance**. 

Chris Brown, Senior Sustainability Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Plastics are vital to car manufacturing and have proven benefits during their use phase, however, plastic waste remains a major global challenge. Solving this issue requires innovation and joined-up thinking between regulators, manufacturers and suppliers.

“At Jaguar Land Rover, we are proactively increasing recycled content in our products, removing single-use plastics across our operations and reducing excess waste across the product lifecycle. The collaboration with BASF is just one way in which we are advancing our commitment to operating in a circular economy.”

This is the latest example of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to addressing the challenge of waste plastic. The company has collaborated with Kvadrat to offer customers alternative seat options that are both luxurious and sustainable. The high-quality material, available initially on the Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque, combines a durable wool blend with a technical suedecloth that is made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle. 

Jaguar Land Rover has already met its 2020 target for Zero Waste to Landfill for UK operations. This includes the removal of 1.3 million m2 – equal to 187 football pitches – of plastic from its manufacturing lineside and replacing 14 million single use plastic items in business operations. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Jaguar Land Rover’s vision for Destination Zero; an ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner. Delivered through relentless innovation to adapt its products and services to the rapidly-changing world, the company’s focus is on achieving a future of zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion.

Editor’s notes:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full

** All Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles tested have achieved a Euro NCAP 5* rating.

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