Category: Transportation

June 11, 2019 Off

Over 1,400 self-driving vehicles are now in testing by 80+ companies across the US

By Jill T Frey

In a talk at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, D.C., today, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao shared a total overall figure for ongoing testing of autonomous vehicles on U.S roads: More than 1,400 self-driving cars, trucks and other vehicles are currently in testing by more than 80 companies across 36 U.S. states, plus DC itself.

This puts some sense of overall scale to the work being done to test and develop self-driving car tech in the U.S. For context, note that California, one of the first states to have implemented AV testing on public roads, currently has 62 companies registered to perform testing — which represents a significant chunk of that 80-plus figure provided by Secretary Chao.

Chao also shared that there are more than 1.59 million registered drones currently in the U.S., of which more than 372,000 are classified as commercial, with more than 136,000 registered … Read the rest

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 envisions Uber Air will one day be cheaper than owning a car

By Jill T Frey

Uber has big dreams for Uber Air, the flying taxi service it’s wanting to launch in 2023. At the third annual Uber Elevate, head of Elevate Eric Allison said the company expects Uber Air to be cheaper than driving a car. It surely won’t be that way on day one, but once Uber deploys fully electric, autonomous shared vehicles, Allison said it will be more economical than driving a car.

“Our vision is that on a daily basis it’ll be more economically rational for you to fly than for you to drive,” he said.

At launch, Uber Air will be cheaper than a helicopter ride. This is a worthy comparison, given Uber unveiled its costly Uber Copter service last week as phase one of Uber Air. In the near term, Uber predicts Air will be comparable to the cost of Uber X and Uber Pool. Long term, which is probably … Read the rest

June 11, 2019 Off

Tesla’s shareholder meeting: How to watch and what to expect

By Jill T Frey

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is expected to take the stage Tuesday for the company’s annual shareholder meeting following a volatile year that saw swings between profitability and wider-than-expected losses, production goals met and deliveries milestones missed, and a securities fraud charge, and subsequent settlement, with the SEC.

The board, like the company it governs, has also undergone changes in the past 12 months. In December, Tesla appointed two independent board members, Oracle founder, chairman and CTO Larry Ellison and Walgreens executive Kathleen Wilson-Thompson. Four months later, Tesla announced in regulator filings, that was reducing the board by more than one-third, to seven directors. Brad Buss, Linda Johnson Rice, Steve Jurvetson and Antonio Gracias will not stand for re-election once their terms end.

Like its earnings calls, Tesla shareholder meetings are rarely boring. If the past is a guide, the event will be run like an informal town hall … 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 10, 2019 Off

Google Assistant comes to Waze navigation app

By Jill T Frey

Ever since Google acquired Waze back in 2013, features from each have been slowly making their way back and forth between it and Google Maps — and today Waze gets a big upgrade with Google Assistant integration, which means you can use the smart voice companion within the app.

Google Assistant in Waze will provide access to your usual Assistant features, like playback of music and podcasts, but it’ll also offer access to many Waze-specific abilities, including letting you ask it to report traffic conditions, or specifying that you want to avoid tolls when routing to your destination.

Google has done a good job of rolling out support for Assistant in its own Android Auto in-car software, and even brought it to Google Maps on Apple’s competing CarPlay system earlier this year. The benefits of having Assistant work natively within Waze are many, but the number one might be … Read the rest

June 10, 2019 Off

Fiat Chrysler partners with Aurora to develop self-driving commercial vans

By Jill T Frey

Aurora, the autonomous vehicle technology startup backed by Sequoia Capital and Amazon, has struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to develop self-driving commercial vehicles.

The partnership will focus on integrating Aurora’s technology into FCA’s line of Ram Truck commercial vehicles, a portfolio that includes cargo vans and trucks. The deal could extend to FCA’s Fiat Professional brand as well, TechCrunch has learned.

The deal with Aurora aims to specifically develop and deploy self-driving commercial vehicles that could be used by any third party with a delivery-to-consumer need. For instance, once Aurora’s technology is integrated into its commercial vans, FCA could sell them to a third-party logistics company — like say, Amazon — that intends to use autonomous vehicles for deliveries.

Neither company disclosed financial terms of the deal.

The high cost of developing and bringing technology such as electrification and autonomous vehicles to market has prompted automakers, including FCA,

Read the rest
June 7, 2019 Off

Lyft sues SF over bike-share program

By Jill T Frey

Lyft is suing the city of San Francisco, claiming that the city is violating its 10-year contract with Lyft that would give the company exclusive rights to operate bike-share programs. San Francisco, however, says the contract does not apply to dockless bike-share, but only station-based bike-share.

In its lawsuit, Lyft is seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the city from issuing permits to operators for stationless bike-share rentals.

Although SF previously allowed Uber-owned JUMP to operate its stationless electric bikes, that was supposed to be a one-time exception since Motivate, which Lyft eventually bought, was not yet ready to deploy its stationless electric bikes, the lawsuit states. JUMP’s pilot expires on July 9, 2019, but now the city is seeking additional operators to deploy stationless electric bikes.

“We are eager to continue investing in the regional bikeshare system with the MTC and San Francisco,” a Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Uber’s COO and chief marketing officer are out

By Jill T Frey

Uber’s chief operating officer Barney Harford and chief marketing officer Rebecca Messina are stepping down as part of an organizational shakeup put into motion just a month after the ride-hailing company went public.

CNBC first reported the departures.

The departures, which CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explained in an email to employees, were prompted by his decision to more directly control core parts of the business. Khosrowshahi told employees that he wants to be even more involved in the day-to-day operations of its biggest businesses, the core platform of Rides and Eats, and has decided they should report directly to him.

Harford left after agreeing that the chief operating officer role “no longer makes sense,” according to the email reviewed by TechCrunch.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that at every critical milestone, it’s important to step back and think about how best to organize for the future. Given that we’re a month … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

FedEx ends express delivery contract with Amazon

By Jill T Frey

FedEx will not renew a contract with Amazon to provide express delivery for the e-commerce giant’s packages in the United States.

FedEx, which made the announcement Friday, said in a statement the change would not affect other existing contracts with Amazon or international services. FedEx Express only impacts air services. FedEx will still serve as a carrier for Amazon for last-mile deliveries.

Amazon said in a statement that it respects FedEx’s decision and thanked them for its “role serving Amazon customers over the years.”

FedEx tempered the news by stating that Amazon is not its largest customer. The percentage of total FedEx revenue attributable to Amazon.com represented less than 1.3% of total FedEx revenue for the 12-month period ended December 31, 2018, according to FedEx.

The decision follows an explosion in e-commerce, a trend that is expected to continue. FedEx estimates that e-commerce is expected to grow from 50 million … Read the rest