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Uber Posts Positive Q1 Earnings After Tough 2017

Shuttering of Arizona ops stings as Waymo, Lyft take off.

by on May.24, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has made an impact on the company in the short time he's been there.

After nearly a year of problems and attempts to rectify them, including the addition of a new CEO, Uber Technologies’ first quarter results reveal some of the positive impact of changes implemented across the ride-sharing company.

Uber reported net income of $2.5 billion on gross bookings of $11.29 billion, an increase of 55% compared with the year-ago period. The company’s net revenue grew 67% to $2.5 billion.

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Much of the company’s positive results can be attributed to the changes implemented by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and two significant transactions: the sale of GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd. and a joint venture with Yandex N.V. (more…)

Three Quarters of Americans “Too Afraid to Ride” in Self-Driving Vehicles

As more problems reported, acceptance declines, finds new AAA study.

by on May.23, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

They’re expected to flood our roads by the millions over the next decade, and Congress is currently working on legislation that would expand testing on public roads – but a new AAA study reveals that the American public is, if anything, growing more concerned about the safety of autonomous and fully driverless vehicles.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. drivers would be “afraid” to ride in one today, up from 63% when the AAA last polled American motorists in late 2017. The decline in confidence appears to follow an array of incidents involving prototype autonomous vehicles, including the first-known fatal crash near Phoenix when a hands-free SUV being tested by Uber slammed into a pedestrian.

Safety First!

“Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

(more…)

Apple’s Mysterious Autonomous Vehicle Program is Rapidly Expanding

Records show permits for more than 55 self-driving cars.

by on May.16, 2018

CEO Tim Cook has finally begun to offer some hints as to Apple's self-driving car program.

While Apple has yet to say much about its long-rumored car program, some intriguing information has come out thanks to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV revealing that the tech giant now has permits to test up to 55 self-driving vehicles in the state.

That would actually give Apple the ability to test even more vehicles than Waymo, the Google spinoff that has been far more open about its own autonomous ambitions – though less than General Motors, its San Francisco-based Cruise Automotive now holding permits for 104 test vehicles.

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And the DMV report does not cover other states where Apple might be testing, notably Nevada and Arizona, the two Southwest states that have positioned themselves as particularly friendly to autonomous vehicle researchers. Waymo, for example, is known to be running large fleet tests that may run into the hundreds of vehicles in Arizona, including both autonomous models requiring human backup “operators” and the first of its completely driverless prototypes. (more…)

Uber Rival Didi Chuxing Ready to Test Autonomous Vehicles in California

China-based ride-sharing company making inroads in the U.S.

by on May.15, 2018

Uber's autonomous vehicle testing has been suspended, but rival Didi Chuxing is now testing AVs in California.

Uber has scaled back its autonomous vehicle program after one of its self-driving vehicles killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March.

But one of its major rivals for ride-sharing dollars around the world appears to be charging ahead.

Pushing the Envelope!

Didi Chuxing, the China-based ride-hailing service that bought Uber’s business in China last year, obtained a permit to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California. Didi is the latest to join the growing list of companies developing self-driving vehicles in the state but perhaps one of the most significant because of the company’s huge presence in China, the world’s largest ride-sharing market, and its potential global reach. (more…)

Uber Backs Down on Arbitration Accused of Silencing Sex Assault Victims

Ride-sharing service’s drivers accused of numerous rapes and assaults.

by on May.15, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi agreed to end the company's practice of using only confidential arbitration to resolve issues.

Ride-sharing giant Uber responding to critics who feel it has tried to silence victims of sexual assault says it will stop using the forced arbitration contained in its terms of service.

The move comes after reports surfaced revealing at least 100 Uber drivers in the U.S. had been accused of sexually assaulting passengers in recent years, including one recent case in which a driver followed a female passenger after reaching her home and tried to force himself into her apartment. Critics have also accused the service of lax background checks that have allowed some convicted of sex crimes to go to work for the company.

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Anyone using the Uber smartphone app to hail a ride was required to enter into confidential arbitration, even in the event of serious crimes, such as rape, committed by a driver. Going forward, Uber says it will now let victims, including passengers as well as drivers and employees, choose the venue in which to pursue their grievance, including the courts. (more…)

Flexibility Will Drive Success of Autonomous Vehicles

Needs of owners will lead to customization of self-driving cars.

by on May.11, 2018

GM's Mike Abelson suggested that self-driving cars, like the Cruise AV, could be redesigned to customer wishes in the future.

Automakers appear to have moved on from if they can produce self-driving vehicles to what might they look like once the technology is ready — and if one automaker is correct, the sky will be the limit.

And to put a twist on an old phrase, you’ll get to pick the color of the sky in your world, according to Mike Abelson, GM vice president of global strategy. Speaking at Citi’s Car of the Future conference in New York City.

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These designed-by-you vehicles might be owned or leased by individual customers, Abelson noted, adding that he sees a market outside of large cities where ride-sharing services, like Uber or Lyft, may not available. (more…)

Toyota Earnings Jump, Despite Rising U.S. Incentives

Record R&D spending could hurt operating profit.

by on May.09, 2018

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is not only pushing for automotive sales growth, but leading the company into the emerging mobility sector.

Toyota saw earnings jump 21% between January and March, the final quarter of its fiscal year, despite having to sharply ramp up incentives in a slowing U.S. automotive market.

The automaker reported a profit of 480.8 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, up from 398 billion yen the year before. Toyota’s sales also rose 2% to 7.58 trillion yen, or $69 billion. For the full fiscal year, it earned 2.49 trillion yen, or $23 billion, a 36% increase, with sales rising 6%, to 29.38 trillion yen, or $268 billion.

Beyond the Numbers!

The strong performance helped highlight the cost-cutting efforts initiated by CEO and President Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder declaring, “We’ve become a leaner, trimmer company … and in the past year we’ve developed our remaining fat into muscle, so that we’re in a strong position to be more competitive.”

(more…)

Aptiv Starts Self-Driving Experiment in Las Vegas

Company looking to build on 400 rides given at CES.

by on May.04, 2018

Aptiv is partnering with Lyft to test a fleet of self-driving cars in Las Vegas.

Aptiv, the company created by Delphi Technologies to focus on new mobility market, smart vehicle architectures and connected cars to connected cities, has launched a fleet of 30 autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas as part of the Lyft network.

The vehicles will operate on Aptiv’s fully integrated autonomous driving platform in 30 specially equipped BMWs.

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The autonomous cars will be made available starting this week to the public in partnership with Lyft. On an opt-in basis, passengers will have the ability to hail a self-driving vehicle equipped with Aptiv technology to and from high-demand locations. including the crowded Las Vegas strip. (more…)

More Than 100 Uber Drivers Accused of Sex Crimes

CNN found problem not limited to Uber, Lyft has issues too.

by on May.01, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company is looking to make riders feel safer.

For much of the eight years of its existence, Uber has billed itself as a safe alternative for drivers who can’t, don’t want to or shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

How safe is Uber is really in question now that it has been revealed by CNN that 103 Uber riders have accused drivers of sexually assault or abuse in the last four years. Some of the cases that have been successfully prosecuted have seen drivers go to jail for 80 years.

The result of the one trial and other actions are of little solace to the victims. (more…)

VW Using Deal With Didi to Aid Autonomous Development

Automaker gets access to data from 3M rides daily.

by on Apr.30, 2018

VW's new CEO Herbert Diess is pushing to cut costs and accelerate the development of new technologies.

Volkswagen’s pending partnership with Didi Chuxing to build and maintain a fleet of vehicles not only gives the Chinese behemoth a tighter grip on the ride-share market in its home country, it will accelerate VW’s development of autonomous vehicles.

As part of the deal, which is expected to be finalized next month, the German automaker will initially manage a fleet of about 100,000 new vehicles for Didi, of which two-thirds will be Volkswagen Group cars, according to Reuters.

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Volkswagen will also be part of an alliance of 31 companies, including Toyota and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, to develop cheap, electrified vehicles for China. (more…)