Tag: uber

By on March 5, 2020

Uber Otto

The former leader of Uber Technologies’ self-driving unit, Anthony Levandowski, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, and it looks to have something to do with the $179 million he’s legally obliged to pay Google. A San Francisco County court decreed the same day that Anthony needs to pay out in order to settle his contract dispute.

In December, it was ruled that Levandowski and Lior Ron violated their agreement with Google when they left the company to start Otto — a rival autonomous vehicle company focused primarily on commercial trucking. Uber purchased Otto in 2017 but Google’s self-driving arm (which evolved into Waymo) claimed Levandowski violated intellectual property laws by stealing trade secrets it owned for Uber. While Ron decided to pay $9.7 million to settle with the tech firm, Anthony held out. He also faces a federal indictment over the alleged intellectual property violation.  (Read More…)

By on January 15, 2020

At the start of this month, Uber released a safety report in a bid to address concerns surrounding rider welfare. Not to be outdone, its main competitor also took steps to convince the masses that it’s also doing everything within its power to keep customers safe.

Lyft is forming a council of experts to assist the ride-hailing company in revising safety initiatives for riders and drivers. The group will include representatives from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), It’s On Us, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. As with Uber’s report, Lyft is focused on incidents of sexual assault — and blaming society for any problems it may have.  (Read More…)

By on January 6, 2020

Uber released its first safety report on Saturday, primarily to address concerns surrounding rider welfare. The media has become increasingly critical of Uber as a brand after its corporate culture was dubbed toxic — allegedly loaded with sexism and financial progress by any means necessary. Following a fatal accident involving one of the company’s autonomous test vehicles, many grew fearful that the company hadn’t fallen into the habit of promoting (or appreciating) public safety. Hoping to assuage some of those concerns, Uber put together its own safety report.

Earlier in the month, the ride-hailing service said it had received reports of 3,045 sexual assaults in the United States in 2018, with 9 people murdered (nearly half of them drivers… fortunately?) and 58 crash-related deaths. Uber said these issues only affected 0.0002 percent of the 1.3 billion rides the company orchestrated in the United States that year.

The new study attempts to frame data, accumulated over 21 months, against national averages to show that Uber is simply suffering from issues inherent to our society. While noting that an estimated 44 percent of women in the U.S. have been a victim of sexual violence seems like an odd way to absolve oneself from wrongdoing, Uber’s just a fancy cab service trying to distance itself from systemic fears that may have not have been entirely fair.  (Read More…)

By on December 26, 2019

Uber Technologies co-founder Travis Kalanick is leaving the company’s board to focus on his new business endeavors in other industries. The company made an announcement on Tuesday, with Kalanick expressing a need to move on.

“Uber has been a part of my life for the past 10 years. At the close of the decade, and with the company now public, it seems like the right moment for me to focus on my current business and philanthropic pursuits. I’m proud of all that Uber has achieved, and I will continue to cheer for its future from the sidelines. I want to thank the board, Dara [Khosrowshahi] and the entire Uber team for everything they have done to further the Uber mission,” Kalanick said in a statement.

Stepping down as CEO in 2017 after a series of wholly unnecessary scandals (sometimes with Travis at the center), Kalanick stopped managing the company’s daily business. Uber then embarked on an effort to improve its corporate governance, with its better-known founder (apologies to Garrett Camp) being pushed into the shadows. Pressure from investors became overwhelming after he was caught on video arguing with a driver over the company’s pay structure in a period where Uber’s corporate culture was already broadly presumed to be toxic. He was replaced with Khosrowshahi about a month later.  (Read More…)

By on November 25, 2019

Transportation for London (TfL) announced it has informed Uber that it will not be reissued a license to operate in the UK capitol, citing concerns over customer safety. TfL had previously declined to renew the ride-hailing business’ private hire operator license, which expired on September 30th, saying it was unsatisfied with the number of drivers it found “fit and proper to hold a licence.” Then it changed its mind, offering a two-month extension.

Now it’s claiming that at least 14,000 Uber trips taken within the city included drivers linked, via their app profiles, to cars they were not legally registered to drive. Having done an impromptu survey of his own (done as unscientifically as possible by just asking drivers if they owned the vehicle), your author found the number of “rogue” Uber drivers in New York City to be about one in five.

While easily framed as a gotcha moment, that ratio isn’t really any different from what I’ve experienced with NYC’s sanctioned yellow (or green) cabs. But that doesn’t exactly make it a non-issue either — just more of the same.  (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2019

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has disclosed Uber’s autonomous test fleet was involved in 37 crashes over the 18-month period leading up to last year’s fatal accident in Tempe, AZ. Having collected more data than ever, the board plans to meet on November 19th to determine the probable cause and address ongoing safety concerns regarding self-driving vehicles.

Reuters reports that the NTSB plans to issue comprehensive safety recommendations to the industry, as well demand oversight from governmental regulators, in the near future.

Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding the fatal incident in Arizona are as unique as they are complicated — ditto for most other crashes involving AVs. While Uber’s test mule failed to identify the pedestrian in time, leading to her death, she was also walking her bicycle on a particularly awkward stretch of road. “The system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians,” the NTSB said. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2019

Uber has formed an independent board tasked with overseeing its autonomous vehicle program. As outsiders, they’ll have no official authority within the company. But the six-member group will have direct access to executive years, and will be using them to advise the business on how best to test and deploy new technologies.

Dubbed the Self-Driving Safety and Responsibility Board, the group was formed after one of Uber’s test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2018. An external review commissioned by the company following the incident recommended the board’s formation, with support from the NHTSA.  (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2019

Chicago is considering sticking ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft with a new tax that would add a few bucks onto each ride. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed a $40-million-per-year tax increase as part of a broader traffic plan modeled after London’s famous congestion fines. That means not all rides would be subject to the same fees, but each trip taken within the city would still cost a little extra.

While congestion charges are all the rage in Europe, they’re uncommon in the United States. New York City recently decided to financially penalize every driver taking a trip below 60th Street (something I’m not thrilled about), positioning Chicago as the second major metropolitan area in the U.S. to move forward on congestion fees. Lightfoot claims it’s a necessary first step “to improve mobility and further our goals of ensuring sustainable, affordable and reliable access to transportation options in every neighborhood.”  (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2019

Uber is testing pet pricing in North America to see if it can minimize surprise cancellations stemming from unexpected animal passengers while simultaneously hoping to make itself some money. The program, entitled Uber Pet, launches in select cities on October 16th and tacks on a small surcharge while giving drivers the right to refuse service in advance.

As difficult as it is to believe, not everyone loves animals — and even fewer like having strange ones making a mess of their personal vehicle. One of the most common complaints among Uber drivers is people bringing aboard pets unannounced.  (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

vision 2.0 NHTSA Autonomous vehicles

Over the past year the automotive industry has carefully walked back the expectations surrounding autonomous cars. Yet pretty much any change in rhetoric constitutes retracted goals. With numerous companies predicting self-driving fleets of commercial vehicles before 2021, the bar couldn’t have been set much higher.

A lack of progress is partly to blame. However, a bundle of high-profile accidents have also shaken public trust — especially after it was found that Uber whistleblower Robbie Miller was trying to alert the company to issues with its self-driving program just days before one of the company’s autonomous Volvos was involved in a fatal accident with a pedestrian.

That’s not the half of it. In April, Miller released a study claiming self-driving vehicles were actually recording incident rates higher than that of your typical motorist. Contrasting data from the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) and the California DMV, he concluded that autonomous test vehicles created more injuries per mile than the average human motorist with a few years of practice.  (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Last week, the Center for Auto Safety announced it had reached out to America’s ride-hailing giants to encourage them to stop allowing drivers to use vehicles under active recalls. The group’s release references a Consumer Reports study from this spring that alleged 1 in 6 automobiles commissioned by Uber and Lyft had unresolved defects in the NYC and Seattle areas.

“Unrepaired recalled vehicles are dangerous and can kill or injure drivers, passengers, bikers, or pedestrians. Exploding Takata airbag inflators which have resulted in at least 24 deaths worldwide, GM ignition switch failures which have resulted in at least 170 deaths in the U.S., and hundreds of other less-publicized defects pose equally significant threats to public safety,” explained the advocacy group. “Yet, recent studies from Consumer Reports and others have found concerning numbers of rideshare vehicles with unrepaired recalls on the Uber and Lyft apps.” (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2019

The futuristic world of personal transportation sans ownership was, once again, called into question after Uber posted its largest-ever quarterly loss on Thursday. The $5.2 billion dollar dent was accompanied by a Q2 that also showcased slowed growth, the worst the ride-hailing firm has ever seen.

While Uber attributed a large portion of its losses ($3.9 billion) to the employee stock compensations it needed to issue after its initial public offering in May, the remaining $1.3 billion still represents increased losses over last year’s results. Uber also said it expects to lose $3 billion through the end of 2019.

Despite revenue continuing to grow to roughly $3.1 billion, up 14 percent from last year, it’s the slowest quarterly growth rate in Uber’s history. However, the company claimed that “healthy growth” is what it’s primarily seeking at this time — and made a point of noting so on numerous occasions.  (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2019

Image: FCA

Large U.S. companies hoping to side-step the 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods by appealing to the government aren’t having much luck. Since July, the U.S. has imposed the tariff on billions of dollars worth of goods from the People’s Republic, leading to financial fallout for automakers heavily invested in the region.

And it seems no one complained more than General Motors. Tesla, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, and Uber also sent in official gripes in the hopes of receiving an exemption, only to have the door hit them on the way out. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

Uber Advanced Technologies unveiled the next generation of its self-driving SUV on Wednesday. Sticking with the Volvo XC90 as a platform, Uber stated that the latest prototypes should be capable of operating autonomously, adding that previous versions were not necessarily built with full autonomy in mind and required the presence of a safety driver behind the wheel.

While past versions of Uber’s test platform essentially retrofitted vehicles purchased from Volvo Cars, this new batch was co-developed with the automaker. Volvo said the project represents the “next step in the strategic collaboration between both companies.”

Volvo previously claimed that the cyclist killed by one of Uber’s autonomous test vehicles in 2018 might still be alive had the firm not tampered with the automatic emergency braking system all XC90s come equipped with. Uber’s latest SUVs utilize all of Volvo’s existing safety features, building on top of them with its own systems and creating as much redundancy as possible.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2019

As ride-hailing services utilize the personal vehicles of contractors, rather than a commercial fleet of their own, repairs and recalls have to be handled by individual drivers. While it shouldn’t be a revelation that some recalls fall through the cracks, Consumer Reports is concerned that the ratio of unaddressed safety issues are unbecoming of companies pushing multibillion-dollar IPOs.

“Uber and Lyft are letting down their customers and jeopardizing their trust,” suggested William Wallace, products policy manager for Consumer Reports. “Uber’s website says people can ‘ride with confidence,’ while Lyft promises ‘peace of mind,’ yet both companies fail to ensure that rideshare cars are free from safety defects that could put passengers at risk.”  (Read More…)

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