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DT Daily: driverless car race, Lantern on Indiegogo, T-Mobile can’t let go

Today on DT Daily: A driverless car competition in China gets off to a slow start, the Lantern is a cool gadget that receives data from space and sadly, even being dead is apparently not a good enough reason for canceling a phone contract early.

There’s nothing like the sound, speed, and excitement of motorsport. Unless, that is, you’re in China for this year’s driverless car competition, which does away with the speed, and consequently, isn’t quite as exciting at watching Lewis Hamilton hurtle around Monaco in an F1 car. More than 20 cars created by universities and research laboratories will battle it out over the next two days in the “race” to the finish line.

Cars will be judged on safety, smartness, smoothness, and perhaps ironically, speed. The self-driving vehicles will be tested on both highways and city streets, and must perform a variety of common – but technically challenging – driving maneuvers – sans drivers. If you’re worried about getting mown down by an autonomous vehicle in the near future, don’t be; because there will be plenty of time to get out of even the most carelessly driven car’s way.

If I told you I was receiving messages from space, you probably wouldn’t take me very seriously, but that’s exactly the idea behind Lantern, the newest project to gain traction on Indiegogo. No, it’s not aliens doing the talking, but a small, oblong box covered with solar panels, which pulls in everything from the latest news to eBooks, Wikipedia, and educational material from satellites orbiting the Earth.

It’s designed to bring all this information to people who, for one reason or another, can’t otherwise get online to access it. The team behind Lantern considers it a portable library that’s continuously updated, and a potentially life-changing tool for billions of people around the world. It’s also completely free to use, and there’s no monthly contract or data cap, although you do need a Wi-Fi enabled device to view the information Lantern gathers.

The Indiegogo campaign is underway, and a Lantern is yours for $100, and you can also donate a Lantern to those who would most benefit from it, but can’t afford to buy one.

Getting out of a phone contract can be difficult. In fact, it seems not even being dead is a good enough reason to cancel early. After her husband passed away from cancer, Mrs Raybould, who lives in the UK, tried to close his T-Mobile phone account.

It should have been simple, but producing the death certificate wasn’t enough for T-Mobile, and neither was a bill from the funeral home, or a letter from the crematorium. Even after three attempts to convince the network of his death, culminating in taking his ashes into a T-Mobile store, the threatening letters and additional charges continued to arrive.

Finally, T-Mobile did cancel the contract and clear the outstanding balance, claiming it was all an administrative mistake. Mrs Raybould said she wouldn’t want anyone to go through the same situation, and in a statement that should tell you everything you need to know about network contracts, said it was easier to bury her husband, than it was to cancel his phone.