Alphabet unveils vision for high-tech Toronto waterfront project

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A structure stands in the Port Lands, where Alphabet Inc, the owner of Google, is expected to develop an area of Toronto's waterfront after they announced the project "Sidewalk Toronto", using new technologies to develop high-tech urban areas in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 17, 2017. (REUTERS)
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The downtown skyline and CN Tower are seen past cranes in the waterfront area envisioned by Alphabet Inc's Sidewalk Labs as a new technical hub in the Port Lands district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 29, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The downtown skyline and CN Tower are seen past the eastern waterfront area envisioned by Alphabet Inc's Sidewalk Labs as a new technical hub in the Port Lands district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 3, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 June 2019
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Alphabet unveils vision for high-tech Toronto waterfront project

  • If the Can$3.9 billion ($2.96 billion) development goes ahead, tens of thousands of people are expected to live and work in the district, where tall buildings would be made out of timber

OTTAWA: Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google parent-company Alphabet Inc., on Monday officially unveiled its plan for a massive technology-driven neighborhood on Toronto’s waterfront that it hopes will become a blueprint for the future, but which has already generated controversy.
The 1,500-page master plan covers a 4.8-hectare (12-acre) parcel on the eastern shore of the city’s harbor. The Lake Ontario site would merge sustainable design with new technologies, such as trash-picking robots, sensors that measure pedestrians’ gait, sidewalks that melt snow and street-side parking that can be pre-booked.
But, in an era of global concern over data protection at tech firms, the proposal has been criticized for concerns over loss of privacy, and the handing over of control of public spaces to a private corporation.
The city, Ontario and federal governments, which have partnered with the New York-based urban planning firm on the project, would have to approve the proposal.
If the Can$3.9 billion ($2.96 billion) development goes ahead, tens of thousands of people are expected to live and work in the district, where tall buildings would be made out of timber.
Sidewalk Labs said it could be expanded to cover more than 77 hectares.
The aim, Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff told reporters, is to “create the neighborhood of the future... with people at its center, and with cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking urban design combining to achieve ambitious improvements in the urban environment and in the way we all live.”
Public consultations will be held over the coming months.


‘Stronger than ever’: India set for fresh Moon launch attempt

Updated 21 July 2019
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‘Stronger than ever’: India set for fresh Moon launch attempt

  • The South Asian nation is bidding to become just the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the Moon
  • The first launch attempt was scrubbed just under an hour before the scheduled lift-off because of what authorities described as a “technical snag”

SRIHARIKOTA, India: India will make a second attempt Monday to send a landmark spacecraft to the Moon after an apparent fuel leak forced last week’s launch to be aborted.
The South Asian nation is bidding to become just the fourth nation — after Russia, the United States and China — to land a spacecraft on the Moon.
The mission comes 50 years after Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the moon, an occasion celebrated by space enthusiasts globally on Saturday
The fresh launch attempt for Chandrayaan-2 — Moon Chariot 2 in some Indian languages including Sanskrit and Hindi — has been scheduled for 2:43 p.m. (0913 GMT) on Monday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said.
“Chandrayaan 2 is ready to take a billion dreams to the Moon — now stronger than ever before!” it said on Thursday.
The first launch attempt was scrubbed just under an hour before the scheduled lift-off because of what authorities described as a “technical snag.” Local media, citing ISRO officials, said that issue was a fuel leak.
The agency tweeted Saturday that a rehearsal for the launch was completed successfully.
Chandrayaan-2 will be launched atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII, India’s most powerful rocket.
Experts said setbacks were to be expected in such missions given their complexity, and that it was more prudent to delay the launch instead of taking risks that may jeopardize the project.
“In such an ambitious and prestigious mission like Chandrayaan, one cannot take a chance even if a small flaw is detected,” Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of space policy at the New Delhi think tank the Observer Research Foundation, told AFP.
Former NASA scientist Kumar Krishen said India’s space agency should be praised for taking on ambitious projects like Chandrayaan-2.
“We should keep in mind that space exploration is risky as many systems have failed in the past and many lives lost,” he told AFP.
Aside from propelling India into rarefied company among spacefaring nations, Chandrayaan-2 also stands out because of its low cost.
About $140 million has been spent on preparations for the mission, a much smaller price tag compared with similar missions by other countries — whose costs often run into billions of dollars.
Chandrayaan-2, and India’s space program as a whole, are a source of national pride in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has outlined an ambitious plan to launch a crewed space mission by 2022, and India hopes to seek out commercial satellite and orbiting deals.
The new mission comes almost 11 years after the launch of India’s first lunar mission — Chandrayaan-1 — which orbited the Moon and searched for water.
The rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The spacecraft will carry an orbiter, lander and a rover, which has been almost entirely designed and made in India.
The orbiter is planned to circle the Moon for about one year, imaging the surface and studying the atmosphere.
The lander, named Vikram, will head to the surface near the lunar South Pole carrying the rover. Once it touches down, the rover will carry out experiments while being controlled remotely by ISRO scientists.
It is expected to work for one lunar day, the equivalent of 14 Earth days, and will look for signs of water and “a fossil record of the early solar system.”