Tech Digest daily roundup: Uber helps UN deliver food and water in Ukraine


Uber has built a “private-label” version of its delivery platform to help the United Nations deliver food and water supplies to war-torn areas of Ukraine. The tech firm is working with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). It’s difficult for large delivery trucks to access some parts of Ukraine because of structural damage and the threat of attack. Uber’s platform enables the WFP to co-ordinate a fleet of smaller vehicles. The WFP is hand-picking its own drivers and vehicles, but some are former Uber drivers who worked in Ukraine before the Russian invasion. Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi said his firm had given the WFP “their own private-label Uber”. BBC 

The European Union has reached a provisional agreement that will effectively force Apple to change the charging port used by its smaller electronics. Last year the European Commission published an 18-page directive which would require electronic devices to all use the same type of USB-C charging port. According to the EU, the move will reduce electronics clutter and waste because consumers will no longer need a different charging cable every time they purchase a new device. Sky News 

Audi will expand its urban fast-charging hub concept to 13 more sites in the next three years, following the success of a pilot project – and hasn’t ruled out a larger international expansion, potentially including the UK, in the longer-term. The firm opened the first semi-permanent site, which features six 320kW fast chargers and a lounge, in Nuremberg, Germany last December. The hub draws power from the local grid and roof-mounted solar panels, with the energy then stored in ‘power cubes’ that contain second-life batteries taken from electric Audi test cars and offer around 2.45mWh of storage. The six charge points can be reserved for 45-minute slots – secured via a barrier that is lowered on entering a code on arrival into the Audi app. Autocar

A British satellite navigation system has been launched to give pinpoint locations to aircraft, ships and driverless cars after Brexit meant the UK was ejected from the European alternative. The satellite company Inmarsat has switched on a UK “space-based augmentation system” (UKSBAS) designed to provide more secure and accurate positioning data than the public GPS used by smartphones and car sat-navs. Britain lost access to the equivalent European system, known as EGNOS, last summer as a result of Brexit. It is also unable to access the secure encrypted signal from the wider European Galileo system. Telegraph

Nasa rockets will be launched into space from the Northern Territory in June and July under an agreement announced on Thursday. The prime minister and the NT chief minister will confirm three scientific suborbital sounding rockets will be launched between 26 June and 12 July from the Arnhem Space Centre, which is owned and run by Equatorial Launch Australia. The two governments say the event will be the first time that Nasa launches rockets from a commercial facility outside the US, and they will be the first Nasa rockets launched from Australia since 1995, when launches were conducted from the Royal Australian air force Woomera range complex. The Guardian

Chris Price
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