History of the Self-Driving Car.

“History of the Self-Driving Car” is a slightly misleading title. That’s because we’re also going to be looking forward and examining where automated vehicles will be heading to.

Over 100 years ago, the most common way to get from A to B in the city was by carriage. As in, horse-drawn carriage. It was creating its own problems, not least because of the ‘pollution’ caused by horses. Notably, their dung, which was filling the streets.

This was a messy situation, but it was also a time when the first cars were entering consumer-level use. It wouldn’t be long before a man like Henry Ford came by and began mass producing cars. This changed everything. Soon, no one used horses for transport anymore. Instead, they took cars, buses, or trams.

But the singular issue was, when accidents occurred, they tended to be a lot worse than if two horses collided – which in itself was unlikely.

A new age dawns.

The idea that “carriages” would ever drive without the assistance of a horse once seemed far-fetched. But what wasn’t far-fetched, once they arrived on the scene, was the idea that cars would one day be automated. Even as far back as the 1920s, there have been experiments on making vehicles self-driving.

Initial efforts resulted in the 1926 Chandler, which was equipped with transmitting antennae. This allowed a second car following behind it to remotely control its driving. Still, this isn’t exactly a self-driving car if controlled by remote.

Experiments continue.

Throughout the 1930s, efforts were made, resulting in an exhibition at the 1939 World’s Fair. There it was shown that an automated guided car, propelled via electromagnetic fields built into the road, could allow the vehicle some degree of self-driving. However, at this stage it was a purely theoretical idea.

But famous futurist and industrial designer, Norman Bel Geddes, envisioned that by 1960 self-driving would exist, and no one would actually drive anymore. From a safety point-of-view, this actually made a lot of sense.

Computers simply compute data then make the most logical decision based on that data. Humans, on the other hand, are prone to making mistakes, miscalculations, and being influenced by emotions.

The dream continues.

Considered one of the pioneers for artificial intelligence, John McCarthy developed his own vision for the self-driving car in 1969. His proposal suggested it was possible to create a car with a ‘television camera’ for its primary source of world-data input and would drive much like a human would – by ‘seeing’ the world around it and reacting to changing conditions as need be.

He also suggested that the vehicle would come with a keypad for inputting commands by the passenger. It would even contain a telephone. So that it could go off on its own without a passenger, such as when a person arrives at a location and there’s no parking available. The vehicle could be sent off to find parking (wherever) and then be ‘phoned’ to come back to the location its owner was in.

Mojave madness.

In 2002, the US Department of Defence was interested in self-driving troop carriers. They struggled to make any breakthroughs so instead they opened it up to the public. They hosted an event in the harsh Mojave Desert where people from around the world could compete with self-driving vehicles. They offered prize money of $1 000 000 for the first car to get past the finishing line. Everybody that had been experimenting in the area of AI and had some technical knowledge of cars came through. It was less than spectacular, unless you count almost complete disaster as spectacular.

Most vehicles didn’t get out of sight of the starting line before colliding into rocks, each other, or simply rolling. 

The most successful entrant didn’t even complete eight miles of the 142 the course required before catching fire. And it took several hours just to almost make the eight miles.

Unexpected technologies boost the self-driving car.

Tech originally designed to assist drivers turned out to help make progress with self-driving cars faster. One aspect you’d imagine would be difficult for self-driving cars is parking. Yet from 2003, various car manufacturers started introducing parking assistance systems in their vehicles. We’re talking about the Toyota Prius Hybrid offering automatic parallel parking assistance… and if we all know one thing, parallel parking is a witch.

A very wicked one.

A new frontier.

But the real age of the self-driving car started with tech giant Google ”searching” for the answer (on Google?). They began a secret project under the direction of a former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Sebastian Thrun.

A few years later, and Google unveiled the truth: its self-driving cars had driven an astounding 300 000 miles and all without incident.

Soon, they demonstrated a prototype of a self-driving car that completely negated the ability to drive it: no pedals or steering wheel.

You don’t get to drive, ever.

Since then, many major car manufacturers have joined in, such as GM, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and others. Mostly these vehicles are semi-autonomous, thereby allowing a passenger to take over if required.

Where to from here?

It’s been speculated in various papers that autonomous vehicles are very much part of our near future.

This begs certain questions, such as: will it be ethical to drive a car rather than have a computer do it for you? You’d knowingly heighten the risk of an accident because a computer isn’t prone to human error. It won’t break speeding laws, it won’t skip red traffic lights, it won’t suddenly turn, and it would probably react faster to an incident than you possibly ever could.

If so, that might mean countries will start passing laws that only fully autonomous vehicles are allowed on the road… You wouldn’t be able to drive, even if you wanted to.

There are advantages to this. Such as for emergency situations. If an emergency vehicle was rushing towards a crash, it could send out a signal to other vehicles to move out the way and clear a path (and to stop at certain green traffic lights, and so on). It would do all this long before you’d even be aware that an emergency vehicle is coming your way.

That’s because with the dawn of the internet of things, cars from far afield would all be signalling each other, not just those in close proximity.

On the bright side, if you’re a die-hard believer in driving your own car, it would also mean no more long, tedious queues renewing your driver’s licence every five years. That’s one thing to be grateful for, right?

Vehicle Financial Assistance Where You Need It Most

Imagine walking into a car dealership. You stop. Your gaze meets the headlights of a hottie so hot her exhaust pipe could melt the coldest heart. As yours palpitates, you run in slow motion towards her – almost as if you were both in a field running / wheeling towards each other. That of course would end badly, not with a moving embrace, but probably a shattered vertebra.  

There’s a lot that’s awesome about our recently upgraded app. Sure, it is and always will be about selling your car for the fairest option around. But our updated app lets you buy cars as well. In an awesome, very Tinder-like style too. You can peruse the “models” we have available for you to possibly get a ride out of. Swipe through the cars, and when you find one you like, you can add it to your Wishlist.

When you swipe up, the beautiful baby you were looking at goes to the Wishlist section of your profile. Keep swiping, keep seeing what’s on offer. Once you feel satisfied, go to your Wishlist and you’ll see your selection.

After that, you will be able to check if you can afford the vehicles or not. But fear not. If you can’t, our awesome partnership with financial institution Wesbank means they’re in the app as well.

And you can then check if, through Wesbank, you can meet the expense to finance your dreamboat. (Car.) (Obviously. We’re not a yacht company.) (Hmmm… BuyCentre: Yachts. Maybe there’s an idea there for expanding our business. “Set sail with our app!” There. We already have the tagline.)

Anyway… using the Wesbank function means you could easily get the ride of your dreams.

That’s one more reason to use our app. For one thing, who walks into a car dealership these days? It’s the 21st Century. Because when it comes to a convenient way to seek, select, and see if you can finance a car, well, there’s an app for that.

Ours.

The Audi R8: As Everyday as You Can Get in a Super Car.

The Audi R8 is a spectacular sports car. This coupe really revs up our motors with its screaming V10 engine. That’s serious firepower. It’s a 5,2 litre – which, really, is perfect for suddenly taking off on that coastal highway as the scenery becomes a blur. (We’re not saying you should break any speed laws, though.)

Face-lift.

The 2019  V10 has been given a slight face-lift  from the previous year’s model. You can see by the grill. For us, it gives it more of a defined shark-like appearance. There’s something killer hot about it. Especially if you pick a model spray-painted slightly off-white.

The body isn’t just about aesthetics. From reviews coming from abroad, this improves its aerodynamic flow on the roads. Less air resistance and all that. You could say it is on land as a shark is in water.

It’s also a bit lighter than the previous model. Audi have fitted a new carbon anti-roll bar, giving a significant 40% “discount” off the weight of the previous one, which was made with steel. As we’ve seen in recent years, carbon fibre is the new black when it comes to automobiles.

In terms of actual driving, other sports car rivals are more fun, in that super car kind of way, to pedal. We mean the pure exhilaration of the performance.

But not everyone interested in a sports car is looking at one simply for Saturday and Sunday drives. They’re looking for a primary vehicle, and this is where the Audi R8 shines. It gives you both worlds. Sports car and urban, everyday car. You’ll enjoy it for both weekend away trips and through navigating the traffic.

It certainly is said to be super car enough that navigating traffic thicker than the dunce kid in class is a breeze. You’ll be able to weave through it with ease. 

The only frustrating thing, we imagine from experiences with other sports cars, is when you’re stuck behind slow moving vehicles. It feels like a leopard bound with chains when it really wants – nay, needs – to bound fast as a flash down the savanna.

In any case, you’ll find the optional adaptive suspension a helpful feature. It softens the experience of urban driving, with all its figurative and literal potholes, making everything more pleasant.

As can be expected with an Audi, it has a very exquisite interior, a state-of-the-art infotainment system, and comfortable trimmings. You’ll find the layout of the controls for running the car to be completely intuitive. If you’ve never driven an Audi before, it won’t take long before you’re literally sitting comfortably in the driver’s seat.

The previously optional reverse cam now comes standard. It’ll add peace of mind when you need to go into reverse. And the virtual display is crisp, easy to read, and the way info is displayed is very well thought out. The user-interface team deserve medals, according to the sentiment of reviewers like the Top Gear team.

This certainly is a vehicle you’ll want to test drive. And since it’s very urban for a super car, you won’t have to go far to fully appreciate it.

Easter Tips to Keep Safe

You’ll have noticed by now that we often post road safety features. That’s because, sadly, there are a high number of accidents on our roads. Even if you’re a responsible driver, you have to constantly account for the other guy.

So, we’ve compiled some safety tips for you to keep in mind if you’re doing any long distance driving this Easter.

Do your checks.

You know what sucks? Having a breakdown or a flat tyre in the Middleberg of nowhere (that’s a sly reference to one of our other blogs, by the way, check it out here). So you should check your tyres and make sure none have any punctures.

Also, you shouldn’t inflate your tyres after hours on the road. It’s more likely to make them burst. You want to do this before heading off, so make a stop at the petrol station your first priority when you head out on your road trip.

Of course, this is the best time to ensure your oil is topped up and there is enough water. Overheating engines 100kms from the nearest station is the opposite of awesome.

Keep a cool head.

And we don’t just mean in terms of the air conditioning, but that definitely is a must. Technically, the hot season only stops near end of April, so it could be a hot day out there. But what we’re actually referring to is: road rage.

Many South Africans lose their cool on the roads. We are a highly stressed society. But we’ve got to learn to let things go. You don’t know who is driving the other vehicle you’re honking angrily at. It could be someone dangerous. Always consider the safety of your family first and foremost, and if someone cuts you off, or does something else that is highly inconsiderate, dangerous even, rather let it go.

Seatbelts are for everyone.

We have mentioned in a Facebook post before that a high number of men (yes, men) don’t wear their seatbelts – the assumption being that with airbags in the car, they’ll be fine in an accident. This actually isn’t true. Airbags are designed to work best when you’re wearing your seatbelt. In fact, they can be dangerous if you’re not wearing your seatbelt.

But there’s also an assumption that people in the backseat don’t need to worry about seatbelts. Perhaps because the seats in front of them act as a shield. This isn’t the Avengers, and in any case, Shield turned out to be infiltrated by Hydra.

But we digress.

You don’t want your kid to go flying into your backseat after crashing your car while travelling at 120km per hour. Insist the children wear their seatbelts, it’s the responsible thing to do.

Daytime headlights.

Keep them on during the day – this will increase visibility. Again, you might think you don’t need to worry about increased visibility when there’s enough natural light, but you should still be worried about the other guy. Because people can switch off on long road trips and go into a lull.

Lulls are bad because of the whole… general lack of awareness thing. Having your lights on could help make the other driver more aware of you.

Switch it up. (And go easy on the food.)

Long drives take their toll on drivers, impacting concentration. It’s a good idea to switch drivers every two hours. Coffee in a cannister is also a good idea. What isn’t is having a protein heavy meal. Skip the hamburger at that fast food joint during lunch – rather have something light. When you have a big meal, it impacts your body’s priorities. Which switch to digestion mode, reducing alertness. Rather snack if you don’t mind eating in the car.

What’s relatively non-messy (and is still acceptable as a protein meal) is nibbling on biltong. It’s one of our best snacks! Try to avoid junk food though, that’ll definitely mess with your ability to concentrate. So no potato chips, sweets, etc. Rather eat nuts and dried fruit.

You know what offers a surprising amount of concentration, but doesn’t have the serious crash of energy drinks (which are really bad for you)? Water. Keeping yourself hydrated is excellent for staying fresh.

Above all, have a happy Easter!

We hope you have a safe, pleasant trip, and enjoy your well-earned break. When you come back, maybe you’ll decide it’s time for a new car – we’ll take your current one off your hands.

Ford Ranger Raptor: A Look at the Ultimate Bird of Prey

Due out soon is the all-new workhorse bakkie, the Ford Ranger Raptor. What makes this bird of prey so significant is it’ll be the first Ford Ranger built in South Africa. Exciting times, and great for our local industry – especially considering our economic climate.

But that’s what the Ford Ranger Raptor is all about… riding over rough terrain in style. According to Cars.co.za, significant progress has already been made, with the first batch of 10 trial units already driving off the production line. Vroom vroom!

The production plant has seen significant investment by Ford, the American automobile maker: R3 billion, to be exact. This is to ensure that everything is ready for when the real production starts.

It’s expected that there will be quite a high demand from South Africans for the Raptor. And it isn’t hard to see why.

According to the official website, it is “a 100% uniquely designed, wonder engineered off-road performance truck to take on the terrain of your choice.”

It should be noted here, that for the Yanks, anything bakkie upwards is considered a truck, unlike in SA where trucks tend to be 3 tonners and up (not to mention infuriating drivers by slowing down the highway).

As for why it’s called a Raptor, well, we partly assume it’s the inspired design lines on the vehicle, and fierce front grill. There’s something amazing about the headlights that bring the Ranger Raptor almost to life… like it was a living, breathing metallic organism.

The new Ranger Raptor will feature an all-new infotainment device, which will keep you entertained with your favourite tracks while riding off the beaten track. And it comes in automatic transmission. Which we prefer because we’re slightly on the lazy side, though it does have a manual mode to it.

The infotainment can be easily controlled from the steering wheel. With a set of controls built into it, it makes changing music and volume, or simply taking calls via the Bluetooth, as easy as eating American pie.

Now onto the specs. The Ranger Raptor will have plenty of raw power to draw on, with its new 2.0 litre bi-turbodiesel engine. You’ll get 157 kW and 500 Nm torque power. The transmission is, as we mentioned, auto and has 10-speeds.

And we suspect, just like a real bird of prey, it will swoop in and take lauded awards from its competitors in the bakkie off-road category.

Bizarre cars

There are a lot of weird cars out there. Truly bizarre. Why anyone would want to drive them is beyond us. However, they are hilarious, and so you, our loyal readers, deserve to check them out. Please note, most of these images were found at www.allthatsinteresting.com – check them out for other weird and fascinating things from around the world.

If the shoe fits….

Shoe size? Try 100. Squared. Why anyone would want to drive around in a shoe-shaped car is a mystery for dear Sherlock Holmes. Can you imagine the feet-smell after a couple of days? Ewww. Still, you could say the leather look helps ‘lace’ it with style.

For serial…

It could be the dream of a very small child, this car is kitted out in Care Bears and other strange stuffed toys. But, if you drive a vehicle like this, we assume you’ve been red-flagged by the FBI and are being monitored right now.

Diamond-studded mess…

This diamond-encrusted car is worth MILLIONS, yet one thing you can’t buy is good taste. If you have any, you’d spend your money on other things. It looks a bit like a Jackson Pollack painting gone horribly wrong. Ordinarily, we love Mercedes, but this vehicular homicide is so bad, it could have featured in the “Ugly” category of our best, worst, and ugliest cars of 2018 blog. Still, if you have a car like this, and want someone to take it off your hands for a fair amount, give us a call (or download our app at www.buycentre.co.za).

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a car…?

Contrary to popular belief, flying cars are not the staple of science fiction. There is one that exists in the real world (unless, the real world is The Matrix, and reality as we know it is a computer-generated simulation – which would help us make sense of this vehicle’s very existence).

Although, technically, it is more plane than car. This baby flies like a microjet, but is more than equipped to handle driving not just on the roads, but also on the highways at approximately 100km per hour.

We love it and wouldn’t mind being sold it by one of our loyal customers. We wouldn’t even sell it but keep this fun ride for times when we really want to go Up, Up, and Away!

SONY DSC

Scooby Doo, where are you?

Into solving crimes committed by people wearing rubber monster masks and who will admonish you when they’re captured with: “And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you rotten kids!”? Then this van is for you! You and your buddies can go on adventures. Remember, there needs to be at least one preppy dude, a nerdette, a pretty princess sophomore, and a guy who’s a bit… not all there. Plus, a dog who loves his snacks named after himself.

And time for our honourable mention:

Go Batty…

Yes, kids, if you love dressing up like a giant bat and have a strong desire to fight a colourful cast of criminals like a guy who thinks he’s a real Joker, this is the vehicle for you. It’s a modified Hummer with notable features like driving through walls without so much as a dent, and foiling Ra’s al Ghul’s insidious plans with machine gun fire.

Speaking like you have laryngitis is optional.

You May Have to Ride a Mini-Bus Taxi Soon

Editorial credit: Rich T Photo / Shutterstock.com

For millions of South Africans without a car, mini-bus taxis are the only form of transport that is affordable to them.

In actual fact, despite the annoyances many drivers feel when driving behind these taxis, they provide an important economic benefit to the country – by helping workers and employees get to their places of business on time, day-in and day-out. They often do this through ‘unorthodox’ driving techniques, such as using emergency lanes to skirt traffic – one could argue that getting people to their jobs on time counts as an emergency.

Inspired by this, and beset by increased congestion on Johannesburg’s roads, officials in the Gauteng Legislator have devised a plan that should soon be easing our streets of unnecessary traffic.

“People arriving late to work every day has an economic cost,” Paul Ringani, a legislator in Gauteng said. “We simply can’t afford any hindrances to getting our economy back on track. Especially now with Moody’s [the ratings agency] breathing down our necks. It’s not just uncomfortable, but also creepy. That’s why we need a solid plan of action.”

The proposal is that all drivers who take less than four other people with them to work will be required to use a mini-bus taxi as transport. Officials are already in discussions with the taxi associations to implement the plan.

“Yes, we have been talking to the City,” ‘Oupa’ Dumasane, a taxi owner, has said. “The way they are suggesting is a card system. Everyone gets a card with credits on them, and you simply slot it into a reader when you board one of our taxis. We stop everywhere, so we can easily pick people up wherever they live.”

The system, which will see millions of JHB residents leaving their cars for after-hours and weekend use, will be strictly enforced.

“Harsh fines will be administered to anyone driving alone or with less than the required number of passengers,” Colonel Johannes Karabi, a high-ranking officer at the JMPD, said. “We won’t take this lightly. Everyone, figuratively and literally, must come aboard with this plan.”

When asked as to what fines would be administered, he said, “Ja, fine, we will take your car. You will only get it back after paying an as-yet to be determined amount, and then only after seven working days. If you are asked to pay a larger amount to get it back sooner, we advise you report a case of corruption to whoever is running IPID that week. We don’t want even our own officers riding roughshod over the law.”

The proposed law will be going to the legislature later this month. It is expected to pass, as the taxi associations have all signed up for it, and a card system tender has been put out to everyone, but Busasa.

There is also currently a tender for production companies to make YouTube videos to teach regular drivers the hand signals commonly used to signal taxis which route they want to go.

Several business executives have already been approached to appear in the videos, in their three-piece bespoke suits, to show suburbanites that this new method of public transport is for everyone.

“I’ve been asked to appear in one of the three proposed videos,” said Steven Allen, CEO of BMI (Bull Manure Industries). “I know exactly the outfit I’m going to wear for it, my Armani silver pin-striped suit. It’ll be my pleasure standing on a street corner doing the ‘going to Sandton’ hand signal. In preparation for the role, I’ve already taken three rides in mini-bus taxis and am starting to get fluent in vernacular. It’s great, because you get to hear all the juicy gossip about so-and-so’s neighbour. This will be a great boon for the economy, and I think Joburgers will embrace it.”

If the law passes, it’s expected that by July we will all be taxiing our way through the bustling economic hub of the country.

UPDATE: Renowned rock group Taxi Violence has been commissioned to do a theme song for the YouTube videos.

The All-New BuyCentre App: Meet Our Latest Star Performer.

The new BuyCentre App is here. You’ll find yourself returning for encores because this app is now about more than just selling your car.

Sell us your car!

In one important aspect, our new app still has a role it continues to play: the most convenient way to sell us your used car. It simply involves entering some basic information, although most of that info can be done for you: you let the app’s camera mode capture the barcode on your driver’s licence. And then you snap a couple of pictures of your vehicle. Finally, upload it at the touch of a button and you’ll soon get a highly accurate offer – one that is unlikely to change, provided all info was entered correctly. Not only that, but we challenge you to get a better cash offer for your vehicle.

We also sell cars.

You can buy cars from BuyCentre, too. Our app provides a convenient way for you to search for the vehicle of your choice. Model, type, year, etc. And if we don’t have it yet, there’s now a wishlist, so you can add all the cars your heart desires.

Financing with Wesbank.

Can you afford your dream ride? Well, our partnership with Wesbank means you can find out in the app. Not only that, but you can finance your new car through them as well. You’ll also be able to check your settlements and access your Wesbank account services with a secure log-in. Now that’s a five-star performance.

Licence renewals.

The worst show in town? When there’s a sudden slowdown in the traffic and you realise you’re caught in a roadblock… only to find out your car licence has expired. Well, now you can get reminders that’ll alert you when it’s time for a new licence – so you can avoid unnecessary money exiting your wallet stage-left.

Find out about fines.

That’s not the only thing to worry about with roadblocks. Often, they check for unpaid traffic fines. Leading to more fines, or even a night trying to act tough in your nearest police cell – and you really don’t want to meet the supporting cast. Well, now you never have to worry again. The new app lets you check if you’ve got any outstanding traffic fines, so you can avoid problems.

Entertainment and information.

The app links you to our blogs, too, where you’ll be entertained with articles, tips, and interesting news related to all things cars. It’s updated every month, so be sure to check in regularly.

With all these new, great features, the show really does go on. And on and on.

Download the new app at our page.

Three Family Experiences to Drive to This Easter.

Easter! It’s nearly here! We’re looking forward to it because it’s a bit like a mini-December. Most people take a couple of days leave to take advantage of the public holidays over that period. Many tend up on nine or ten days leave as a result.

If you’re one of them, and you’re looking for things to do, especially as you’ll probably have the kids in tow, we have some suggestions.

Whether you’re staying at home or travelling, there are plenty of places fit for families. Even though it will be school holidays, we still think there are some fun opportunities for edutainment adventures. So, you can all bond as a family while picking up a thing or two about the world.

uShaka Marine World in Durban

If you’re travelling down to the eastern seaboard or reside in Durbs, you might not have gone to uShaka Marine World before. It’s the country’s best and biggest theme park at 40 acres. There is a lot to see and do, including water rides, such as Africa’s longest water slide. Daily shows involve dolphins and other marine mammals. And there is the extremely educational sea world as well – the fifth largest aquarium in the world! 

It has 32 tanks which total 17 500 cubic meters of water.

Perhaps what will be exciting for the kids is that the underground aquarium is built around five real shipwrecks. This includes an entrance through the “Phantom Ship”. Spooky!

(What five shipwrecks so close together tells us about Durban’s coastal conditions back in the 19th Century certainly isn’t very flattering.)

What the kids might thrill most at uShaka is the wide variety of imposing species of fish, such as ragged-tooth sharks, spinner sharks, the hilarious hammerhead sharks, as well as large rays and morays.

It’s also possible to do a snorkelling experience with some sea creatures. You’ll be able to swim with about 1500 fish in the lagoon.

It isn’t just purely aquatic animals either – there will probably be some excitement at the Dangerous Creatures exhibit, which features scorpions, black mambas, and two species of python, the rock python and Burmese.

The Lion & Safari Park

 If you stay in Johannesburg or are visiting family, make a day to have a mini safari – like a miniature Kruger adventure! You may have heard of the Lion & Safari Park. Maybe even visited it a couple of years ago. But it had a revamp and now features even more amazing creatures.

It’s a bit of a drive from Jozi, but not too far. Close to Lanseria, the park houses not just lions, but a variety of other interesting animals too.

The severely endangered wild dog can be found here. But there are also hyena and spotted hyena, and the black-backed jackal.

You’ll enjoy driving around open areas where the lions reside. And there are feeding times where you’ll experience the sight of hungry lions consuming carrion. Aside from that, there is a theme park atmosphere about the place, and you can go to various exhibits. One the kids will definitely love is petting the lion cubs. A great Instagram moment!

There is also a large, friendly giraffe to feed.

If you thought that was all, you’d be in for a surprise. What is the one creature that can beat a car in a 100 metre race? None other than the cheetah, with its ability to launch itself into top speed in but barely a moment. Of course, you’d eventually catch up, but your dignity in a short distance race would be tattered.

In any case, no you can’t race a cheetah at the safari, but you can interact with one. They don’t ever hunt humans, unlike lions and leopards, so an adult tame cheetah is generally safe – though you’ll still need to abide by some safety regulations. It is capable at kicking tail, after all, and a wild animal is never fully predictable. But many people have enjoyed their controlled interactions with the cheetahs at the Lion & Safari Park, and it gives you a great opportunity for some good, close-up photos of the creature.

There are also plenty of guided tours – these will make excellent moments for learning about our ecology, and the creatures we share this country with.

Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome in Cape Town

Long to experience a voyage into the stars? Or simply look up at them from any position here on Earth, and glory at their wonder?

There are very few places to truly experience the magnificence of the night’s sky. In South Africa, you’d need to go all the way into the Karoo. Far away from all the atmospheric and light pollution.

But that is the beauty of a planetarium: you can help your children experience a full-on educational journey into the heavens without even leaving the city. And every child should undertake the planetarium trip at least once during their schooling years – while they still have that wide-eyed curiosity of the universe.

It will encourage them to continue learning about our place amongst celestial objects, the beauty of our galaxy, and the profoundness of existence itself.

Cape Town has long had a planetarium, but in 2017, this was given a much-needed digital upgrade.  The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome is Africa’s most advanced digital planetarium. It is a worldclass facility which allows you and the children to undergo a fully immerse and multi-sensory experience.

Who says education has to be boring? With this planetarium, the learning is both informative and fun. It is a 360-degree cinema and is not just used for entertainment purposes, but is also used for scientific research, growing South Africa’s body of knowledge.

So, if you fancy the kids marvelling at the wonders of our universe – perhaps inspiring one of them to become a scientist who contributes to our repository of information themselves – make a half day trip to our solar system… and beyond…

The Bentley Continental GT Convertible Is Coming!

Somewhere over the rainbow, and across the seas, is an island of some size. It has hardly ever been invaded. Napoleon couldn’t do it. The Germans in two world wars couldn’t either. And when the Spanish Armada tried, they sailed into a sea of storms.

But this plucky island’s inhabitants have certainly done numerous invasions. And the latest will be in South Africa, sometime this year. What they’re invading with, however, is a force we’ll all be welcoming in our harbours with open arms, ready to shower flowers upon it.

“The Bentley is coming!”

Right now, in England’s Bentley factory, a car is being lovingly hand-built… perhaps for you and your own hands to grasp the gears and the steering wheel. Because we should see it here before the end of the year.

We personally, from the previews we’ve seen, think it will be a new standard-bearer of elegance and style. It will be the epitome of the grand tourer (for those unfamiliar with the term, it simply means a car designed for comfortable long-distance touring).

Designed to be slick.

As you can see from the design, it has some trappings of the fabulous old sports car look, but this is a robust, fresh feel – it almost seems like the car is alive with panache and slick attitude. Forgive us for saying this, Aston Martin, but perhaps like the vehicle version of a young James Bond. Just don’t have a martini, neither shaken nor stirred, before climbing in. Or any other drink for that matter.

The new Bentley also allows for customisation of the interior. You can choose from a selection of fabrics that suits you best – so it has your personal touch.

Expect a stunning interior experience, what with its handcrafted veneer sweeps from the doors laden with fascia – which enwraps the driver and the front passenger.

Touch and twist.

Meanwhile, the new intelligent and intuitive digital features will really make this a vivid driving thrill ride. With a digital display visible through the steering wheel, GPSing wherever you’re going could not be easier. The Bentley will feature both physical buttons and dials as well as a touchscreen interface – which is to our liking. All-touchscreen infotainment systems are a problem in that you can end up taking your eyes off the road for a little too long.

With physical dials you have a better sense of where things should be and what you should be doing while keeping eyes locked outside the windscreen.

The power to perform.

The Bentley comes with a 6.0 litre 12-cylinder engine. Now that’s power! Raw power! Enough to be extremely exhilarating no matter whether you’re driving in town or a trip to the coast. With four full-sized seats, this isn’t just a lad’s car – but one the whole family can enjoy.

In addition, it has an all-wheel drive – which means power gets to the front tyres when they need it. You have more control over more terrains – even if the road gets a bit rough like a rowdy grouch on the streets of Johannesburg.

There’re also four modes to use when driving, with Comfort optimising the vehicle for luxury cruising. Sport, of course (as the name suggests), is more robust and allows for a more rocket-fired ride.(Useful when there’s a bit of congestion on the highway and you want to weave through traffic quickly.)

Bentley mode.

Then there’s Bentley mode, a combination of the two modes (and probably will be our favourite one). Finally, there’s Custom. Which you can… you know… custom.

It’s also an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission vehicle, with top speed attained at six gear. So, what are the other two for?

Well, they’re actually designed purely with cruising in mind – both are different cruise control setting-based gears..

This really is a luxury ride, one that will have you planning day-trips simply to enjoy getting out and about in one of the most stunning cars to be coming out this year.