Category: Uber

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

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 8, 2019 Off

Startups Weekly: The Peloton IPO (bull vs. bear)

By Jill T Frey

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the proliferation of billion-dollar companies. Before that, I noted the uptick in beverage startup rounds. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

Now, time for some quick notes on Peloton’s confirmed initial public offering. The fitness unicorn, which sells a high-tech exercise bike and affiliated subscription to original fitness content, confidentially filed to go public earlier this week. Unfortunately, there’s no S-1 to pore through yet; all I can do for now is speculate a bit about Peloton’s long-term potential.

What I know: 

  • Peloton is profitable. Founder and chief executive John Foley said at one point that he
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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

Tackling ‘big tech’ issues through storytelling, with Jessica Powell

By Jill T Frey

Jessica Powell, Google’s former head of PR from 2012-2018 (years in which Google required a not-insignificant amount of PR leadership), is now a rock star writer whose 2018 debut book, The Big Disruption: A Totally Fictional But Essentially True Silicon Valley Story, was the first novel published by Medium.

I recently spoke with Powell for this series on the ethics of technology, because The Big Disruption, for all its manic energy and a playfulness at times bordering on sci-fi sitcom level-absurdity, should be viewed as a key work in the emerging field of tech ethics. In scenes like the one that begins below, her comic timing and characters help us see how “disruptive” technologies may not so much change humanity, as reveal it.

As a product manager, you are tasked with leading a team and bringing an idea to life. You are the visionary who must direct not

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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 1, 2019 Off

Equity transcribed: Is the tech press too positive in its coverage of startups?

By Jill T Frey

Welcome back the latest transcribed edition of Equity, the TechCrunch podcast that takes a closer look at the startup headlines from the week.

Kate Clark and Alex Wilhelm kick this week off by discussing comments on Twitter made by Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham about the tech press. They then took a look at Uber’s first-quarter numbers, Brex raising, SoFi raising (and entering talks to buy the naming rights for the upcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium) and a lot more.

Here’s a sample:

Alex: Uber’s expectations were low. They had set, in their last S-1/A, these figures out and they came in the middle of revenue and loss expectations. I think the phrase is priced in, and that’s an odd place to be.

Kate: Yeah. It’s good that they came in on expectations. Lyft, you remember, had losses that were way, way, way higher than expected. But I

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