Uber Heads in New Direction With Toyota on Self-Driving Cars

Uber Heads in New Direction With Toyota on Self-Driving Cars

Uber is teaming up with Toyota to build self-driving cars for its ride-hailing service after its efforts to do it alone were derailed by a fatal collision and allegations of high-tech theft.

Toyota, based in Japan, is also investing $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,500 crores) in Uber as part of the alliance announced Monday.

The deal aims to combine the best features from the two companies’ work on autonomous technology into cars that will be picking up Uber’s customers by 2021.

By the time that happens, Uber hopes to have completed an initial public offering of stock that will enrich a list of early investors that now includes Toyota. Those investors have been pouring billions of dollars into Uber’s revolutionary ride-hailing service that still hasn’t proven it can make money since its inception nearly a decade ago.

Uber is counting on self-driving cars to help it turn the financial corner by reducing the need to pay human drivers who arrive to pick up passengers in private vehicles summoned through a smartphone app.

By expanding into autonomous vehicles, Uber also hopes to ward off a looming competitive threat from another early investor, Google and its self-driving car spin-off Waymo, which is poised to launch its own ride-hailing service in Arizona before the end of this year.

“Our goal is to deploy the world’s safest self-driving cars on the Uber network, and this agreement is another significant step towards making that a reality,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Meanwhile, Toyota is trying to evolve from a pure automobile maker into a “mobility company,” as are many of its industry peers, including General Motors and Ford in the US. That crusade has prodded decades-old automakers such as Toyota and GM to invest in and partner with technology companies working on self-driving cars while also opening up their own research hubs in Silicon Valley.

Besides allowing them to lean on each other’s respective strengths, Toyota’s deal with San Francisco-based Uber also will help the two companies spread out the cost of designing and building the complex systems, which use computers, cameras, radar and laser sensors to guide the self-driving vehicles.

Uber is turning to Toyota for help in autonomous vehicles five months after one of its self-driving cars ran over and killed a pedestrian crossing a dark street in Tempe, Arizona.

The March 18 crash prompted Uber to temporarily suspend its work on its self-driving car program while conducting a safety evaluation.

Authorities determined the sensors on Uber’s self-driving car sensors spotted the pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, but the vehicle’s automatic-braking function had been disabled in favour of a human backup driver. Tempe police said the driver was distracted and streaming a television show before the crash.

Uber had little choice but to find a self-driving car partner after the collision that killed Herzberg, said Navigant Research analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

“It’s going to be tough for them to build consumer trust in whatever it is they’re developing,” he said. “I think that people will have a lot more trust in Toyota to do this the right way, to take due care and make sure everything is properly tested and evaluated.”

Uber’s expansion into self-driving cars suffered another setback last year after Waymo accused it of stealing its technology in an elaborate scheme . The case went through one week of a high-profile trial before Uber agreed to pay Waymo $245 million in stock to settle the allegations without acknowledging wrongdoing.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber is seeking a second chance in Barcelona three years after it was forced to shut down in the face of taxi driver protests – by introducing a fully licenced ride-hailing service that meets local transportation laws.

Its new UberX service will operate with hundreds of professional, licenced drivers in contrast to the UberPopservice it ran until late 2014 using non-professional drivers to pick up and drop off passengers, Uber said on Tuesday.

Uber is looking to make a clean break with business practices that resulted in a litany of regulatory battles, driver and consumer scandals and court cases.

“We made mistakes along the way,” Uber General Manager for Southwest Europe Carles Lloret said in a company blog post.

“We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of the cities in which we operate. Barcelona is no exception.”

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in January he was focused on “responsible growth” as he seeks to put an end to the take-no-prisoners culture he inherited upon joining the pioneer of ride-hailing services last year.

Two years ago, Uber re-introduced UberX using professional drivers in Madrid. In December 2014, a judge had ordered all Uber services to be shut down in Spain’s capital city.

Decrying Uber’s return as unfair competition to their livelihoods, taxi drivers have mounted a series of 24-hour strikes in Madrid, Barcelona and other Spanish cities over the past year.

“We are fully committed to working with the entire sector – including taxis – to improve mobility in Barcelona together,” said Lloret.

San Francisco-based Uber pre-emptively closed its services in Barcelona in December 2014 as local officials geared up to pass legislation against the UberPop service, which city authorities legally barred the following year.

Protests by taxi associations over the past year against Uber have also targeted Madrid-based Cabify, a rival founded in 2012 that operates in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Uber operates a range of ride-hailing services in more than 600 cities around the world.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Uber Introduces UK Safety Measures Amid Licence Battle

Uber Introduces UK Safety Measures Amid Licence Battle

US ride-hailing app Uber on Friday announced new safety features for its service in Britain, as it appeals against the withdrawal of its licence in London.
The service, which has around 40,000 drivers in London, lost its licence over its reporting of serious criminal offences and its criminal-record checks for drivers, but is allowed to operate in the capital pending the appeal which is set to be heard later this year.

Uber will now “pro-actively” make reports of serious incidents related to a trip to the police, rather than encouraging individuals to contact authorities themselves, according to a statement on its website.

From next month, passengers will also receive the driver’s licence number in their booking confirmation, meaning passengers can more easily raise issues with the relevant licensing authority.

The app has already capped the number of hours its drivers can work in Britain in a bid to increase safety after heavy criticism of its business practices, and will set up a 24/7 telephone helpline for riders and drivers.

“We’re determined to change the way we do business, so we’ll carry on listening and plan to make other improvements over the coming months,” it said.
London’s transport authority said in September that it would not renew the ride-hailing company’s licence, with the appeal due to be heard in May or June.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Uber Ride Packages With Flat Fares Start Rolling Out in 7 Cities Across India

Uber Ride Packages With Flat Fares Start Rolling Out in 7 Cities Across India

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Uber Ride Packages is an evolution of UberPASS
  • The product is designed to offer flat-fare ride passes
  • Uber’s competitor Ola also developed a similar offering

To make daily commutes cheaper, Uber has launched Ride Packages in India. The latest feature that brings flat-fare ride passes to riders is initially rolling out for select riders in seven cities across the country. While riders in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, and Kolkata can avail the flat fares on their UberGO and UberPREMIER rides, Chennai riders with the ride passes can only opt for UberGO rides. Each flat fare ride pass comes with a validity of up to 28 days and has a certain trip limit. Recently Uber’s closest competitor and one of the leading cab aggregators in the country, Ola, was also spotted with a similar feature that it called Ola Pass.

An Uber spokesperson divulged that the Ride Packages is an evolution of the UberPASS that was launched as a pilot in select riders in June last year. “We are always thinking of new ways to enhance the Uber experience for our riders. UberPASS was one such product that was launched as a pilot in select cities. It helped us better understand our riders’ needs and as a result, Uber recently rolled out a more enhanced product called Ride Packages,” the company said in a statement to Gadgets 360.

The prime aim of offering Ride Packages is to make rides more affordable than before. “Ride Packages is designed to address riders daily commute needs, making rides even more affordable,” the spokesperson said. It was first tested on UberGO riders in Bengaluru late last year.uber ride pass 050418 190431 5240 Uber Ride Pass  Uber

It is worth noting here that the Uber Ride Packages is not yet available for all users. However, we spotted its presence in Delhi and Mumbai. In the Mumbai region, riders can get flat fare UberGO rides at Rs. 199 and UberPREMIER rides at Rs. 159. The riders in the Delhi region, on the other hand, are offered with UberGO rides at Rs. 129, while UberPREMIER rides are available at a charge identical to what is available in Mumbai, which is Rs. 159. Initially, Paytm is the only payment option for the passes opted under the Ride Packages.

There is a Ride Pass menu option in the Uber app that provides access to flat fare ride passes. Once a pass is purchased, it will not be changed with another pass or refunded. The Help section on the Uber app confirms that if the total ride fare is less than the flat fare offered through one of the available passes, the company will charge you the minimum of the two amounts. Likewise, if the total fare is greater than the flat fare but less than the maximum cap, only the flat fare amount will be charged.

As per the FAQ seen in the app, Uber may charge wait time charges in addition to the flat fare amount. Also, we noticed surge pricing will still be applicable despite purchasing the flat-fare ride passes. We’ve reached out for more information on this front.

Similar to Uber Ride Packages, Ola last month started rolling out the Ola Pass subscription to offer flat fares in the country. Ola’s feature is listed as available for a select number of Ola Micro, Mini, and Prime rides and is available in a handful of cities, including Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Mumbai. Unlike Uber, Ola doesn’t apply peak pricing – its terminology for surge pricing – on Ola Pass flat fares. However, Ola has distance limits to the flat fares, from 5km to 20km, which Uber’s Ride Packages do not have.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]