Category: transport

June 11, 2019 Off

Uber and AT&T team up for always-on connectivity for Uber Copter and Uber Air

By Jill T Frey

Uber is partnering with mobile network operator AT&T on the always-on connectivity it’ll require for its aerial transportation service network. The on-demand mobility company announced the team-up at its annual Elevate Summit, which brings together a number of key players working toward making affordable, accessible in-city aerial transit a reality.

Uber said that it’s already working with AT&T on the network it’ll use for Uber Copter, the Manhattan-to-JFK helicopter-based service that it’s launching in New York in July. The service is promising connection with ground transportation at both ends, and it’s also anticipating travel times and working backwards to provide transportation on-demand as needed to get passengers to their destination at the time they request. So, for instance, Uber Copter customers could say they need to be at JFK by 5 PM and the app will figure out when they need to get a car to get to the … Read the rest

June 11, 2019 Off

Uber rival Bolt returns to London 21 months after a TfL investigation shut it down

By Jill T Frey

Bolt, the Uber rival formerly known as Taxify, is taking a significant step this week in its effort to build out its transportation-on-demand business across the biggest cities in Europe and Africa, which currently covers 25 million users in 30 countries and 100 cities: it’s finally opening for business again in London, the biggest ride-hailing market in Europe.

“Finally” and “again” are the operative words here: the Tallinn-based company had launched in London as far back as September 2017 — nearly two years ago — only to shut down its services after three days, when Transport for London, the city’s transportation regulator, started to investigate the terms of its license.

It turned out that not all was right in the state of Estonia . To roll out its services more quickly, Taxify (as it was then known) had acquired a London firm with a license valid until … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

On the road to self-driving trucks, Starsky Robotics built a traditional trucking business

By Jill T Frey

More than three years ago, self-driving trucks startup Starsky Robotics was founded to solve a fundamental issue with freight — a solution that CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher believes hinges on getting the human driver out from behind the wheel.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Starsky Robotics started a regular ol’ trucking company. Now, nearly half of the employees at this self-driving truck startup help run a business that uses the traditional model of employing human drivers to haul loads for customers, TechCrunch has learned.

Starsky’s trucking business, which has been operating in secret for nearly two years alongside the company’s more public pursuit of developing autonomous vehicle technology, has hauled 2,200 loads for customers. The company has 36 regular trucks that only use human drivers to haul freight. It has three autonomous trucks that are driven and supported by a handful of test drivers. Starsky also employs a … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

Zoox co-founder Jesse Levinson is coming to TC Sessions: Mobility

By Jill T Frey

Autonomous vehicle startup Zoox has a history of keeping its progressive plans to itself. But that’s starting to change.

The venture-backed company that is creating ground-up fully autonomous electric vehicles is ready to share a bit more about its tech, strategy and plans. And who better to talk to than co-founder and CTO Jesse Levinson, the person who oversees the company’s software, artificial intelligence, computing and sensing platforms.

We’re excited to announce that Levinson will join us onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility on July 10 in San Jose. TechCrunch will discuss with Levinson the tech that is driving the company’s autonomous vehicles, recent changes at Zoox — including its new CEO Aicha Evans, challenges facing the company and its deployment plans.

Levinson is among a group of insiders who participated in early government-backed competitions aimed at pushing the development of autonomous vehicles. While completing a computer science PhD … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Aurora’s head of product is coming to TC Sessions: Mobility

By Jill T Frey

Self-driving car startup Aurora might be as buzzy as they come. The company raised more than $530 million just a few months ago in a round led by Sequoia Capital, and with “significant investment” from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates. We’ve learned Aurora isn’t shy about using that capital, with two acquisitions in the books.

But how, when and where will Aurora’s autonomous vehicle technology end up? Lia Theodosiou-Pisanelli, who leads product development and program management for all of Aurora’s partnerships, will join us onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility to give us the scoop.

Theodosiou-Pisanelli has had an up-close view of the autonomous vehicle industry. Prior to joining Aurora this spring, she was director of business development for Lyft’s self-driving technology business, Level 5.

Her background in global government relations at Square, as well as a U.S. Trade Representative at the White House, gives Theodosiou-Pisanelli insight into how … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Mercedes-Benz is expanding its luxury subscription service

By Jill T Frey

Mercedes-Benz is expanding a pilot subscription service that lets users switch between different luxury models to a third U.S. city a year after launching in Nashville and Philadelphia.

The pilot is another example of how automakers are experimenting — with mixed levels of success — with different ways to make money beyond producing and selling cars, trucks and SUVs. Cadillac, Volvo, Porsche and Audi have also launched subscription plans. Cadillac shuttered its service after a year; it’s recently announced plans to re-launch the service, but this time involving dealers more.

The luxury automaker, which is owned by Daimler, plans to bring its so-called “Mercedes-Benz Collection” to Atlanta, the same city where its U.S. headquarters are located. Clutch Technologies will continue to operate the subscription platform. That’s the same city where Porsche initially launched its subscription service.

Mercedes also plans to test a new subscription tier in Atlanta that … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Aptiv’s self-driving BMWs have made more than 50,000 rides on the Lyft app in Las Vegas

By Jill T Frey

A little more than a year ago, self-driving software company Aptiv and Lyft launched a pilot project to test a robotaxi service — with human safety drivers still behind the wheel — in Las Vegas during the week of CES.

That one-week pilot never ended. And now, the companies say they’ve given more than 50,000 rides in Aptiv’s self-driving BMW 5 series vehicles via the Lyft app. The average ride received a rating of 4.97 out of 5 stars, according to Lyft, which added that 92% of riders said they felt very safe or extremely safe during the ride.

The milestone illustrates how far Aptiv and Lyft has come in a span of 18 months. It also shows that in spite of amassing so many rides, there’s much left to achieve before humans leave the driver’s seat for good.

Lyft and Aptiv first launched the pilot in January 2018. By … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

GM and Fiat Chrysler are buying Tesla’s regulatory credits

By Jill T Frey

One of the more opaque segments of Tesla’s business just became a little more transparent. Recent  filings show that GM and Fiat Chrysler have bought zero-emissions vehicle credits from Tesla, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Tesla’s ZEV credit program isn’t a secret. The company has brought in nearly $2 billion in revenue since 2010 when it started selling regulatory credits to automakers that needed to offset sales of polluting vehicles in the U.S. And it’s a revenue stream that has been either lauded or criticized for years now as analysts and the media debate whether this helps or hurts Tesla’s bottom line.

But little was known, until now, about who was doing the buying and why — beyond the assumed reason to offset sales of vehicles that produce tailpipe emissions.

Bloomberg found recent state filings in Delaware that reveal a little bit more about Tesla’s ZEV customers. GM and FCA both disclosed … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

Susan Fowler’s memoir has a title and a release date

By Jill T Frey

Susan Fowler’s forthcoming memoir, titled “Whistleblower,” is scheduled to hit bookshelves March 3, 2020. The book will be available for pre-order beginning June 12.

In late 2017, Penguin Random House imprint Viking Books acquired the rights to the memoir, which chronicles the harassment and discrimination Fowler faced during her tenure as a site reliability engineer at Uber.

Her memoir “will expose the systemic flaws rampant in the startup culture,” with “previously unreported details of what happened after she went public with the harassment and discrimination she faced [at Uber],” according to Viking. Additionally, it will touch on themes such as women’s role in the American economy, navigating challenging work environments, with an “eye-popping depiction and broad indictment of a work culture where a woman can do absolutely everything right and still encounter tremendous obstacles.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Fowler is best known for her infamous blog post, “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Read the rest

May 28, 2019 Off

Aptiv’s Karl Iagnemma at TC Sessions: Mobility July 10 in San Jose

By Jill T Frey

Before automakers and giant tech companies kicked off their own autonomous vehicle pilots, a startup called nuTonomy launched a self-driving taxi service in Singapore for the public, not just its test engineers.

The AV industry took notice, and by October 2017 it was snapped up for $450 million by Aptiv, a U.S. auto supplier and self-driving software company formerly known as Delphi.

We’re excited to announce that Karl Iagnemma, co-founder of nuTonomy and now president of Aptiv Autonomous Mobility, will participate in TechCrunch’s inaugural TC Sessions: Mobility, a one-day event on July 10, 2019 in San Jose, Calif. centered around the future of mobility and transportation.

Iagnemma, who earned his MS and PhD degrees from MIT, co-founded nuTonomy in 2013. The former director of the Robotic Mobility Group at MIT has filed for, or been issued, 50 patents and published more than 150 technical publications and edited volumes … Read the rest