Tech News

Uber Develops Self-Driving Cars, Twitter Unveils Instant Timeline [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 03-02-2015

Uber takes on Google, Twitter helps new users, RadioShack looks to shut up shop, Adobe PaintCan helps you draw, Bayonetta comes to your browser, and Mr. Selfie ignores everybody.


Uber Develops Autonomous Taxi Fleet

Uber Hire A Car In Most Major Cities Worldwide With Uber And MyTaxi You'd expect by now that hiring taxis with an app on your fancy GPS-enabled device to tell the drive your location would be an everyday event, right? Wrong. Read More is keen to develop its own fleet of self-driving cars for the future. That is at least the conclusion being drawn from the company teaming up with the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.

According to TechCrunch, which broke the story, a source close to the decision-making process suggests this is designed to “kickstart [its] autonomous taxi fleet development.” In order to make this happen, Uber has also reportedly “hired talent from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, including lead engineering and commercialization experts.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has previously suggested he would like to see his fleet of vehicles (don’t call them taxis! What Is Uber and Why Is It Threatening Traditional Taxi Services? Uber has landed, and it's fundamentally changing inner-city transit. And some might say, not entirely for the better. Read More ) powered by something other than human drivers. Because human drivers are expensive. We wonder how this revelation, along with the opening of the Advanced Technologies Center, has gone down with current Uber drivers.

In a related story, Bloomberg claims Google is “preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, most likely in conjunction with its long-in-development driverless car project.” This would, if true, put Uber and Google on a collision course, but the Wall Street Journal claims the whole thing has been “blown out of proportion,” and that Google is actually trialing a carpool service for its employees.

Twitter Helps New Users Settle In

Twitter is testing a new Instant Timeline which prevents new users from being faced with a wall of nothingness when they sign up to use the social networking site. As its name suggests, Instant Timeline presents new users will a feed of content before they have even followed anyone 20 Funny People You Need To Follow On Twitter [Weird & Wonderful Web] You should be following all of these people on Twitter because, while many of them are quite clearly psychologically damaged, they're also extremely funny. Read More .


The idea is to solve one of the main issues with Twitter that could be preventing its growth. That is the need to actively interact with the site in order to gain anything from it. Which is, we suspect, why so many new users abandon the site before truly experiencing everything Twitter has to offer 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Twitter Twitter has now been with us for seven years and counting. This was seven years to the day since Jack Dorsey sent out the first tweet in 2006, at a time when the micro-blogging social... Read More .

Instant Timeline decides what content to show you by analyzing the Twitter behavior of your contacts. So, if you have a lot of friends who are into baseball, expect to be shown lots of baseball tweets. Instant Timeline is currently being tested, with the hope being to expand it until it’s a standard part of the sign-up process.

RadioShack May Be on Its Way Out

American electronics retailer RadioShack looks set to shut its doors in the not-too-distant future. According to Bloomberg, the company which was founded all the way back in 1921, is preparing to declare bankruptcy, selling half of its stores to Sprint and closing the rest.

The Sprint deal isn’t yet complete, which means the plans are still liable to change. There are further suggestions that Amazon could be circling the injured company, using the RadioShack retail space as showrooms for its own hardware. Either way, with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) suspending the trading of RadioShack stock, it seems the once-mighty retailer is doomed.


Everybody Can Draw with Adobe PaintCan

Adobe Labs has released a free app called PaintCan. Available for free exclusively on iOS (only in the U.S.), PaintCan lets you turn photographs into paintings in a matter of minutes. The video above shows how it works, with automatic presets and manual brushstrokes applied.

Due to its experimental nature, Adobe is actively seeking feedback about PaintCan, which may end up becoming a full Adobe product, be folded into Photoshop 10 Websites to Make You a Photoshop Ninja The web is full of amazing resources that you can use to become a Photoshop expert in no time. Here are 10 of the best... Read More , or disappear altogether. Which means you should probably get hold of it for free while you can.

Play 8-Bit Bayonetta in Your Browser

You can now play an 8-bit version of Bayonetta directly in your Web browser. The game loads up when you hit the 404 Error page on the website of Bayonetta developer Platinum Games. Which, as Kotaku suggests, provides ample opportunity for trolling friends with fake URLs.

The game itself is simple to play but fiendishly difficult to master. Meaning the best score I have personally managed so far is a paltry 2000. Still, video games were harder back in the 8-bit days 7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History Read More , so this makes perfect sense. But it’s still frustrating.


Please Don’t Be like Mr. Selfie

And finally, a short animation from London-based design studio Weareseventeen should act as a reminder for us all to look up from our smartphones Your Gadgets Don't Control You: The Problem With "Look Up" [Opinion] Smartphones aren't making us dumb; social networks aren't making us antisocial. Technology is a tool, and it's time we stopped blaming it for our problems and took responsibility for our digital habits. Read More once in a while. If we don’t do so there is a very real danger of missing out on all of the wondrous things life has to offer How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life Your smartphone could be ruining your life, or at least have the capacity to do so in the future. Read More . In other words, don’t be like Mr. Selfie.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Are you for or against the idea of self-driving cars? Will you be sad to see RadioShack disappear? Do you see yourself in the antics of the animated Mr. Selfie?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Image Credit: Dirk Heine via Flickr


Related topics: Google, Twitter.

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  1. John Williams
    February 5, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    The problem with tech constantly looking for "labour saving" is that the population is rising. What are all the redundant taxi drivers going to do for a living? We could do with a tech world where an iPhone costs a thousand Dollars because it was hand made slowly in the USA, but designed to last for a very long time.

    A lot of tech is offering solutions to problems we never knew existed to sell us hardware that we didn't know we needed. Would that these brilliant minds were turned to clean water provision and sanitation, or health issues .... Truly, the world does not need robot taxis.

  2. Joseph Knorr
    February 5, 2015 at 4:47 am

    What do Humans do when most of us will be considered too obsolete/inefficient to work in capitalistic system where human dignity is not considered/valued a variable in the economics equation of profit. Just sayin....
    Pericles ;)

  3. Jeff
    February 4, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Self driving taxi cabs?
    You mean like Johnny Cab from the original Total Recall movie?

  4. dragonmouth
    February 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    "Because human drivers are expensive"
    Translation - we can keep more money for ourselves.

    "RadioShack May Be on Its Way Out"
    This is news?! RS has been dead for at least the last three years, it just hasn't keeled over yet.

    "Twitter Helps New Users Settle In"
    Ahh, Instant Twits!

    "If we don’t do so there is a very real danger of missing out on all of the wondrous things life has to offer."
    If it's not on the smartphone, it does not matter.