Uber Shared Data on 13 Million Users With US Government

The Uber mobile application which allows smart phone users to travel to another location by an accredited driver has revolutionized transport and caused a great deal of anger from taxi drivers. These people feel they can’t earn a living due to the huge taxi license expense and lower fees consumers face when using Uber. Clearly, Uber has modernized the taxi system for the interconnected world and offered consumers an additional choice. Recently, the company publicly released a transparency report which discloses how much information is shared with authorities. The data shows Uber shared information on 13 million users including passengers and drivers with the US government. The majority of these requests stem from U.S. transportation regulators. Once the findings were unveiled, Uber released a statement on their thoughts about data requests which reads:

“Regulators will always need some amount of data to be effective, just like law enforcement. But in many cases they send blanket requests without explaining why the information is needed, or how it will be used,”

“And while this kind of trip data doesn’t include personal information, it can reveal patterns of behavior—and is more than regulators need to do their jobs.”

“We hope our Transparency Report will lead to a public debate about the types and amounts of information regulated services should be required to provide to their regulators, and under what circumstances,”

Rightfully so, Uber believes the huge scale of these requests isn’t right and it does seem like interference from government bodies. Personal information should be protected if you’re using a commercial service. There’s no reason for the government to get involved and it looks like all they want to do is monitor the behaviour of its citizens. Hopefully, transparency reports like this can help raise the issue of privacy and how many requests are made by government authorities.

Uber & Lyft Drivers Will Need Business Permits in San Francisco

When it comes to “ridesharing” apps like Uber and Lyft, the law has been slow to catch up on the latest app-driven taxi scheme. Debating if they are consultants or employees, cities have been torn apart as Taxi drivers argue that they use loopholes to avoid extra charges that Taxis have to pay. This may change thanks to San Francisco now requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to own a business permit if they want to keep working within the city.

City Treasurer Jose Cisneros has apparently sent out 37,018 letters to drivers within the city to let them know about the new requirement, ultimately forcing Uber and Lyft to either recognise their drivers as staff or get business permits and act as contractors. With each permit costing only $91 a year (if you make less than $100,00 a year) then the funding coming in from the new requirement comes to around $3.37 million a year!

Uber responded in a statement to SFGate saying that as its drivers were independent contracts they were “responsible for following appropriate local requirements” while Lyfts spokesperson Chelsea Wilson was less than candid in saying that their company opposed thew new plans, saying that the company has “serious concerns with the city’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database”.

Uber CEO Faces Lawsuit Price Fixing Allegations

Uber is a popular app that allows people to act almost like taxi’s for others, with one person pressing a button to request a ride and minutes later a driver arriving to provide the transport at a cost. With the concept of pricing, a key part of the system, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick may want to be careful as he faces a lawsuit of price fixing allegations relating to the app.

Uber is no stranger to legal troubles, with people in Jakarta staging violent protests over the app and one driver even claiming that a demon convinced him through the app to commit murder, the app has seen its fair time in the spotlight for legal issues. During the recent Metro shutdown in New York Uber decided that it wouldn’t raise prices to more than 3.9 times their normal rate, a kind gesture that could certainly see people put off using the service. A US District court judge in New York has stated that Kalanick must face

A US District court judge, Jed Rakoff, in New York has stated that Kalanick must face the lawsuit that states he conspired with drivers to set the fares the app provides using an algorithm, including its well-known progress of increasing rates during peak hours through its “surge pricing” model.

In his comments, Rakoff states that the plaintiffs had “plausibly alleged a conspiracy” which ultimately drove out rivals for the app. It will be interesting to see how a company as well known as Uber faces charges over something some would call a “feature” within their software while others would claim it takes money from those desperate in times of need, such as those escaping from attacks or when other transport systems are shut down.

Uber Accused of Skipping Out of Paying Bug Bounties

With all the apps and systems that are used, created and updated every day it is often impossible for you to be absolutely certain about their security. This resulted in the creation of external help through schemes like bug bounties unless your Uber who change the scope of what bug bounties they’ll be paying.

Bug bounty schemes are simple. If you find a problem in the code or system that a company uses, you report it to the company running the scheme and if they find it was a problem, you get paid. Even Microsoft and GitHub run schemes to help narrow down and find problems with their software. The issue comes here is that only this week popular taxi alternative app Uber launched its own bug bounty scheme.

Sean Melia found a few issues or rather a few admin panels/ports that were open. This fell in line with what Uber wanted under the grouping of “publicly accessible login panels” and “exposed administration ports (excluding OneLogin)”. After reporting the first issue which was quickly accepted as a bug, Melia went about finding others resulting in the large group he ended up reporting. The problem was that by this time Uber had updated their documentation to make these reports invalid, without informing people using the scheme. Free security support anyone?

The reason for the change? Ubers security engineering manager, Collin Greene, has stated they changed the rules so that they stopped researchers wasting their time on minor bugs. Greene then stated that “a successful bug bounty rests on researchers trusting us to run it well, which we take very seriously”, something that may not go down so well when you are willing to change the goalposts without telling people.

Was Uber right in this case? Should they have acted differently? A problems a problem, even with a lesser payment, should Melia have received something given that he did the work under the old rules?

Jakarta Taxi Drivers Are Protesting Against Uber

Recent years have seen the rise of apps that sometimes disturb common practices, things that have been going on for many years already. One of the things disturbed has been Taxi’s with many apps offering similar services, often for cheaper fares. Taxi Drivers in Jakarta have had enough and are now protesting against Uber and similar apps.

Taxi drivers in Jakarta are saying that apps such as Uber and grab have impacted their business, resulting in reduced salaries. The impact they say is because unlike Taxi companies, the apps are not affected by the costs and regulations that Taxi companies have to pay.

The protests have been less than calm though with reports of violence erupting. One man stated that he saw a passenger being threatened with rocks when a taxi driver accepted a passenger and footage has shown taxi drivers being threatened and attacked for not taking part in the strikes.

No matter what their opinions on the matter, attacking other taxi drivers does nothing but harms their reputation, arguments and relationships with fellow workers as they fight for the “good of the group”. The protesters have taken to blocking roads outside many government buildings, including the ministry of communication and parliament, resulting in heavy delays in the capital.

With apps like Uber offering features that taxi’s simply can’t, such as the new Family ride service, are taxi’s able to keep up with the apps or are they sticking to a model which technology has made dated? Do you use Uber or are you a Taxi person? Which is better in your opinion and why use one when the other is available? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below

Driver Blames Demon in His Uber App for Killing Spree

An Uber driver, charged with the murder of six people, and wounding of two others on 20th February, has claimed that he was forced to commit the crimes by a “devil figure” in his Uber app, which was controlling his “mind and body.” In a series of documents released by the Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Office (obtained courtesy of the Detroit Free Press), Jason Dalton, a 45-year-old former Uber driver from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, told police after his arrest that a symbol resembling the head of a demon popped up on his app – which he used to conduct his business as an Uber driver – and “that’s when the problems started.”

“I asked Dalton what made him get his gun tonight and he said the Uber app made him,” the police report reads. “Dalton described the devil figure as a horned cow head or something like that and then it would give you an assignment and it would literally take over your whole body.”

Dalton claimed that when his Uber app turned from “red to black that is when he started having problems.” When the app returned to red, he “got his presence back.”

According to the accused’s wife, Carole Dalton, though, tells a different story. According to her, Dalton had been in an argument with a rival driver, who had supposedly shot at him. “[H]e was nearly run off the road last week by this same vehicle, which he believed was owned by an angry taxi driver, upset that Jason was now driving for Uber and taking away his business,” she told investigators.

 

Robotic Car Sharing Could Have 400 Million Users By 2030

People like using things which are easy to navigate and control. This may be the reason for the recent boom of car sharing app’s and systems in place. With people using systems like Uber to quickly call a taxi and having someone pick you up with ease saving you precious minutes (and $$$) when you need to get somewhere. With the use of automated cars though you could see as many as 400 million users relying on robotic car sharing by 2030.

You wake up and realise you are running late to work. You send a quick text to request a pickup and start getting ready, within half hour a car is sitting outside your house and you are off to work. You’re not driving, and neither is your work colleague who is sharing the same car because he lives in the next set of buildings down the road. Robotic cars could soon see you doing away with steering wheels and instead rely on LiDAR technology and exterior cameras to drive you safely to work.

With groups like the White House looking to create self-driving cars alongside companies like Google, it was only a matter of time before the idea of self-driving sharing taxi’s arrived. Google have already announced that they want to have some out on the roads this year, something that we can all look forward to.

Uber Won’t Raise Prices More Than 3.9x Due to DC Metro Shutdown

Ride sharing is becoming the new taxi service, with people ordering a lift for their friends from an app on their phone and then having someone come and pick them up in their car. Uber is the biggest example of ride sharing, with the app even being considered as the end of taxi services. The problem Uber has is that it is fully in control of their fee’s and tend to adjust them based on demand, but thanks to the DC metro shutting down Uber are capping this increase and say they won’t raise prices more than 3.9x.

The algorithm used to calculate Uber’s rates has been targeted as a bad example when it raised prices by over 4x in Sydney when people began fleeing a hostage situation in 2014. While Uber refunded these and even offered free rides to others, the company wants to ensure that it doesn’t suffer this embarrassment again.

With the DC metro closing, Uber is enforcing a cap on the price hike at 3.9 times the original. While they encourage people to share the rides and split the costs, it would seem that the initial impact of the metro shutdown only raised the price by 1.7 times its normal price.

Do you think companies should be able to raise prices like this? should there be a limit on how much they can raise their fees during busy times?

Ride-Sharing to be Expanded in Google Maps

With the rise of businesses like Uber, ride-sharing seems to be the one of the major ways to get around, combining the convenience of a taxi with the ease of use provided by an app. Google added Uber integration to Maps a few years ago in select locations. Now, Google will be expanding the selection of ride-sharing services available via the Google Maps app to include five new partners from around the world, as well as adding a brand new tab for ride-sharing when plotting a journey alongside the standard ways of getting around such as car, taking public transportation, walking, or bicycling.

As well as the existing Uber integration, Google’s new partners will include 99Taxis in Brazil, Ola Cabs in India, Hailo in the UK and Spain, mytaxi in Germany and Spain, and Gett in the UK.

This is good news for both Uber and their rival firms, as they will be able to compete against each other from the level playing field of the same menu in Google apps. This will allow potential customers to choose the best service for them based on price and time-of-arrival, which will hopefully develop competition in order to get the best service for customers. Additionally, Maps will also allow users to distinguish between UberX, UberXL, and UberBlack services for an even greater service breakdown.

This integration of a number of ride services seems to be part of a move by Google to provide the definitive hub for transportation information. It is also a whole new battlefield for ride-sharing firms, who will no doubt seek more prominence on Google’s platform and it could be reasonable to see even more companies being available on Google Maps worldwide should the feature catch on.

Uber Trials Phone Monitoring of Its Drivers

Uber is well-known for problems. The popular app allows drivers to charge as if they were taxi’s, getting notifications that someone is requesting a lift and then offering their services at a charge. Uber, like many companies, suffer from bad press and actions like stolen accounts being sold and even having its leaders in France arrested. In order to combat their drivers though Uber looks to employ the same technique that some insurance companies now use, monitoring of its drivers.

Uber announced that it will be rolling out a trial in Houston, Texas, to check on drivers who have received complaints about their driving standards. The system will use a combination of the phone’s accelerometers, GPS and gyroscopes to record actions such as excessive speeding or even if you decided to check your phone and send a text while at the wheel.

Uber made it clear that they would only access this information though if the driver had a complaint made against them, although the possibility of always-on monitoring is still on the cards.

While monitoring is often frowned upon, when you are placing your trust in a driver who is monitored in very few ways, with some instances of drivers being accused or committing crimes, a little extra safety for passengers and road users can’t be a bad thing.

Uber Lowers Prices In US And Canada Due To Low Demand

Uber gets in the news a lot. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has called it out for being breaking the law, three cities in Germany no longer have the service and French Uber drivers even created a rival app. Amongst all of this Uber can’t be having too good a time, even though popularity and usage of the app are growing? Not in the U.S it would seem as Uber lowers their prices to help pick up usage in the new year.

It’s a new year, it’s still cold and we still have to get around. Seems like people aren’t using Uber as much as they expected as Uber posted explaining that people staying indoors to keep warm and save money means that this time of year, people tend not to use the service. In order to get usage of the service up, in over 100 cities in the US and Canada, the service will cut prices for riders and stating that they are “guaranteeing earnings for drivers to ensure that no one is disadvantaged”.

With them continuing on to say that the percentage cut to prices will be different from city to city, and no exact figures on what each location will receive or even what the  guaranteed earnings for drivers will be users may be skeptical. If you’re in the US or Canada though, now might the right time to pop out and do that little bit of shopping you’ve been putting off so far.

Google Plans Self-Driving Taxis for 2016

Google will launch its self-driving car initiative as a separate business, offering rides for hire in direct competition with firms such as Uber, under parent company Alphabet Inc next year, according to Bloomberg Business.

An anonymous source briefed on Google’s self-driving car strategy claims that, initially, the vehicles will not be sold, but instead will be available for hire to customers during the day, returning to Google depots for service and maintenance at night.

“These potential ride-for-hire services could allow consumers to experience the technology and embrace it in a bigger way,” said Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner Inc.. “That would help not just Google but the entire industry.”

Self-driving cars that don’t require a human driver are not yet legal on public roads in the US, so unless Google has inside information regarding an imminent change to the law, its vehicles will only be permitted for use on private property, such as university and business campuses, military bases, or airports.

While Google waits for the law to catch up with new automotive technologies, Uber has invested over $10 billion it has raised in private markets to develop its own fleet of self-driving cars, as well as recruiting a number of autonomous vehicle engineers from Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics program.

Image courtesy of Google.

French Uber Drivers Launch Rival App

Uber is known for a lot of things, from their drivers employment stance ranging from contractors to employee’s being charged with crimes. One of the more recent decisions they’ve had to face with was the decision to cut fares across Paris. Some drivers have had enough though and have created their own app in order to compete with the taxi app.

VTC Cab is an app created by former uber drivers to complete with the popular app. The app is available on the Google Play store and now iTunes, and shares some similarities with the Uber app. Users can hail cars and rate their drivers, but VTC Cab also allows you to place orders for a taxi in advance and works on a different model to Uber. Instead of the commission taking a cut of the raised funds there is a membership fee.

Instead of the 20% that Uber takes off all trips, VTC Cab will only charge its drivers a monthly fee of €250 (around £180), meaning that anything after that initial fee is theirs to keep. Mohammed Radi, the app’s founder, also stated that they will offer a customer service phone line, instead of following the email based system other app-based taxi services use.

Do you use Uber? Do you drive for an Uber-type service? What are your thoughts on a flat fee per month instead of a commission?

Uber Experiments with Colors in Order to Ensure Smoother Pickups

When it comes to ridesharing services, you’ve probably experienced this problem at some point: not knowing which car is your ride. Even though you might be familiar with the model and the license plate, spotting your Uber ride can become a bit tricky in crowded areas or poorly-lit streets, which is why Uber has decided to come up with a solution. The new color-coding system that they are testing (SPOT) allows you to pick the color for a light on the driver’s windshield, which will glow when the car gets close to your position. You can also light up your own screen when the car gets closer if you want to help the driver out a bit.

The testing sessions are taking place only in Seattle for now, and nobody really knows if the service will eventually be implemented in other cities. If that is to be the case, many cars would need to be modified accordingly, which could cost Uber a pretty penny. However, the advantages could definitely outweigh the costs, especially since passengers could get to their destinations faster while errors would become much less of a regular occurrence.

What do you think about Uber’s new color-coding idea?

Boris Calls Out Uber For “Breaking The Law”

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, is known for a lot of things, from his wacky antics to the ‘Boris’ bikes that you can ride around London. He has even pledged that London will have 5G by 2020. This time, his words were a little less welcoming and was targeted at a common form of transportation, Uber.

Boris Johnson has a weekly column in the Telegraph and this week it would appear he has used it to defend the classic sight of black London taxi’s and this week he has gone on the offensive.

Johnson is the chairman of Transport for London and has often spoken about the transportation within London. In July, Johnson stated that Uber drivers would need to pass a knowledge test to be able to work in London, but his more recent comments state that the law is clear and that only hackney carriages (the other name for black cabs) can be hailed on the streets.

Another possible area for discussion is that only black cabs can operate with a taxi meter, meaning that fare calculating apps like Uber technically breach this law. Either way, Transport for London are looking at amending the law regarding taxi’s to help clarify systems like Uber, from their rights and responsibilities to outlining just how they can operate within cities like London.

Are you a Uber user? Do you think that Uber should be held to the same standards as a taxi company?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Thank you BBC for the image.

Stormtrooper Chargers Were Rolling The Streets of New York

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is probably the highest anticipated motion picture of the year, even tho it barely makes it in with a launch date set for December 18th. With such a high-profile movie coming out, the advertising and PR departments are turning and coming up with ideas to promote the movie and its associated merchandise even more. Dodge provided eight Chargers, including a Hellcat, for a Hot Wheels promotion with Uber on Friday in New York that coincided with the toy car maker’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise.

The Dodge Chargers take on the look of the Hot Wheels Stormtrooper cruiser and were a perfect fit for the event. In return that meant that meant that Uber users were able to ride in the Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Chargers for free by using the promotional code HOTWHEELSFF. Riders in the Chargers also received an official Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hot Wheels diecast car.

“The Dodge Charger embodies the look and feel of the Hot Wheels Stormtrooper diecast car and is sure to turn heads when traversing on the streets of NYC on Force Friday”, said a Hot Wheels official while a Fiat Chrysler spokesperson said that it was a one-time promotion independent from the companies recently announced promotional partnership with Lucasfilm.

It is no real surprise that the event was held on Friday as it was the official day where Walt Disney Co. started to roll out the merchandise for the new movie on a global scale.

Thank You AutoNews for providing us with this information

Podulator – A Sign of Future Transport?

James May is known for a lot of things, amongst which is the show Top Gear of which he only recently stopped hosting. Known to have a keen interest in motorised vehicles, James’s latest twitter post is of a different type of vehicle.

As seen above, James seems to be at Heathrow, advertising the future of transport displayed at Terminal 5. The pod-based system allows you to travel between the station at terminal 5 and the two based in terminal 5’s car park. The system is not a new one, with it celebrating over 1 million autonomous miles back in 2013.

Featuring 3.8 kilometers of one-way track for the pods, it’s almost like a personal train between the stations. The one comparison I can draw is with trains, but the private and personal carriage like nature reminds me of the old cabin based trains, for those who have never experienced this, think about the Hogwarts train (shown below).

With companies like Google making automated cars, we could soon see Pod like cars working on a large scale, across an entire city or maybe even a country? Could companies like Uber and your local taxi soon be replaced by automated cars which you call at the press of a button?

Thank you Ultra Global PRT for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Ultra Global PRT and Harry Potter Wiki.

Uber Reportedly Operating At Huge Losses

San Francisco-based transportation Network Company Uber has been a revelation in terms of market adoption and consumer exposure. But, the key is successful financial management which benefits the long-term viability of a company; this has been placed in a questionable stasis by alleged leaked financial Documents which covey’s a somewhat punishing set of results from Uber’s point of view.

Gawker has purportedly leaked Uber’s financial results which show operating losses of more than $100m (£65m) in the second quarter of 2014, albeit coupled with steady growth in revenue. This is an astonishing figure which is compounded by an astronomical valuation which sets the total value of the company at $50bn; this makes Uber one of the most funded start-ups in the world.

Below is the documents which Gawker have published, now, this slightly confused me too, but eTeknix have clarified the figures. Everything is actually x1000, so when the Net Loss for 2013 is $56,530, this means it is in reality $56 million. The second document lays out quarterly profits and losses in 2012 and part of 2013, this shows healthy revenue coupled with steadily deepening losses. In 2012, Uber’s losses totalled $20.4 million; from the first quarter of 2012 until mid-2013, quarterly losses more than doubled from $3.5 million to $8.1 million.

Uber released a statement which did not deny the existence or the validity of these documents but outlines the following,

“Shock, horror, Uber makes a loss. This is hardly news and old news at that, It’s the case of business 101: you raise money, you invest money, you grow, you make a profit and that generates a return for investors.”  

Which is true, any business has to invest capital in order to grow, the only question centres around the point when it becomes unsustainable. For me it’s reckless to value a perceived wealth of a company at such a high figure, it raises expectations to a level to which assets cannot compete. Revenue has to be maximised while minimizing losses, otherwise shareholders will become nervous and sceptical of projected figures which places Uber in a tricky position.

Image courtesy of abc7

Uber Invests Heavily in India

American international transportation network company Uber established a presence in India in 2013, and it has been expanding gradually to 18 of its cities since. Recently, Uber announced that it plans to invest no less than $1 billion in India, and the investment will be done gradually over the next nine months in order to ensure the development of new products and the expansion into new cities.

Aside from its renowned taxi hailing app, the company also launched a few other products on the Indian market, such as low-cost ride services and new payment options. However, Uber’s presence in the country was not exactly an event-free one, as the firm was criticized heavily by the local authorities after a female passenger was allegedly raped by a driver. As a result, Uber’s services were banned temporarily by the Delhi government, and the brand implemented a special “SOS” button for its vehicles that allows passengers to call for help in the event of an assault.

Regarding the new investment, the president of Uber India, Amit Jain, stated the following:

“We are extremely bullish on the Indian market and see tremendous potential here. With this investment and the strong rate of growth we are seeing, we expect to hit over 1 million trips per day in the next six to nine months.”

Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information.

Nokia Finally Found Someone to Buy Their HERE Maps!

It has been a long search for the best buyer, but it seems that Nokia finally found somebody to buy and further develop their HERE Maps technology. As reported previously, it was thought that Microsoft will buy the HERE Maps technology, seeing that it wanted its mobile phone business. However, the recent change in the company led to believe that Microsoft may move away form the smartphone market.

Uber was interested in Nokia’s technology too, offering an outstanding $3 billion for it. But it looks like Nokia did not agree with what Uber had in mind for their technology, so they declined the deal after all. However, recently, there have been some rumours that some German vehicle maunufacturers were interested in the technology too.

Nokia declined to make any comments on the matter, but a new report surfaced and we finally know that the company is close to signing the deal with Audi, BMW and Daimler for $2.71 billion. This is less than what Uber offered, but Nokia did state that it would sell the HERE technology to someone who really has the means of improving it, didn’t they? Besides, the deal seems to be the best offer Nokia is going to get.

Besides, the German manufacturers want to use the high-definition real-time digital maps to help develop self-driving cars and automotive safety systems. On top of that, they also want other vehicle manufacturers to pitch in and help them with their plans. So as far as the details show, Nokia really hit their target on selling the technology for a lot of money and to a company, well companies, who have the means on improving it, don’t you think?

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information

Uber Set to Buy out Tesla’s Autonomous Car Stock

We all know that the Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution is coming, be it in the form of cars, trucks or busses; we are destined to rely on these vehicle types in the very near future.

Uber, ride share taxi company has recently announced that they want to purchase every autonomous vehicle that Tesla will produce in 2020. Now for those of you that haven’t been paying attention, Tesla is currently the worlds leading EV company producing the ground breaking P85D, which can give cars such as the Mercedes SLS AMG a huge run for their money.

As we already know, Uber has a range of vehicles from luxury, suburban and even hybrids; so the jump to an all EV is a step in the right direction for taxi services and this could be something that more tansport services could adopt in the near future.

Now it’s not all about the economy and paying drivers, autonomous cars can analyse the road in front of them and adjust the suspension to suit the conditions. They are also 10x safer than a traditional human driver and even marginally quicker due to being constantly connect to other vehicles and traffic services in the area.

Would you get a ride in an autonomous vehicle when they become available? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ComputerWorld for providing us with this information.

Uber Accquires Bing Mapping Assets and 100 Engineers from Microsoft

Car-hailing firm Uber is making big strides into the mapping market, acquiring mapping data as well as about 100 image-collection engineers from Microsoft. Uber has been looking to making their mobile app better, mainly in the area of better maps to bring drivers and riders together. While companies transferring data and technology isn’t something new, the movement of about 100 engineers is rare.

With such a large movement of engineers, it looks like Uber actually may have acquired a Bing mapping division or some part of it at least. What is most surprising though isn’t that Uber wanted the data and engineers, but that Microsoft was willing to part with them. Microsoft has spent a lot of money trying to build up their Bing search and mapping platforms and divesting itself of this many experienced engineers is not a sign of confidence.

both Uber and Microsoft are facing tough times ahead of them. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke about making tough choices in the near future and getting out of fringe markets not core to the business. Uber is also facing push back to its business model, mainly from taxi organizations and just had two senior officers arrested in France. It will be interesting to see both firms move on from this technology and personnel transfer.

Thank you Tech Crunch for providing us with this information.

Uber Launches a Water Taxi Service in Istanbul

Istanbul is a beautiful and important city, no doubt about it, but it can become quite crowded at times, which is why its citizens often have difficulties crossing from its European to its Asian side and vice versa. Fortunately, American international transportation network company Uber has recently announced a brand new boat service in Istanbul that will allow people to traverse the city quickly and comfortably. Dubbed UberBOAT, the service is marked as a separate option in the primary Uber app, and it is based on a small fleet of speedboats operated by a Turkish firm named Navette.

The speedboats can accommodate six to eight people each, and they will carry passengers along a few popular routes across the Bosphorus. As far as pricing is concerned, Uber said that it will be calculated based on the route’s distance, and while no final fares have been announced just yet, estimates indicate prices between $18 to $161 USD. Obviously, these are quite a bit higher when compared to those practiced by regular ferries, not to mention the fact that the Bosphorus can be crossed by car using one of the two bridges that span the strait. However, if they want to avoid road traffic and crowded ferry lines, Istanbul’s citizens now have a quicker and more convenient alternative.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Uber Leaders Arrested In France

Uber has been in the news a lot recently. From having accounts sold on the dark net to being banned in countries due to its drivers behaviors. All of these have been large problems for a company which relies on the public not only using their app but also providing the cars for people to use. Today it all changed as two officials in Uber’s French branch were taken into custody.

Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Pierre-Dimitir Gore-Coty were taken into custody in Paris today, this follows on from a raid that took place in its Paris office back in March. The two executives were charged with different allegations, the first of which being the running of an illegal taxi operation. This is a problem they have encountered in a few countries, with some debating if Uber can be considered a taxi service and others debating if their drivers are contractors or indeed employees.

The second allegation was concealing digital documents following on from the March raid, which in turn was slowing down the investigation.

France already has a strict stance on Uber, banning UberPOP (the equivalent of Uber in France) which allowed people to sign up and become Uber drivers without professional licenses. In response to this ban police have been issuing fines, these fines would be paid for by Uber.

So after being fined and possibly having their vehicles taken away they are still willing to drive for an app which considers them “contractors” (this avoids a lot of legal implications, such as providing health insurance in certain countries). After having two of its senior members taken into custody maybe Uber will have to rethink how it does business, or maybe France will have to go one step further and ban UberPop with a Justice Court ban on the service?

Thank you Tech Crunch for the information.

New Lawsuit Hints at Apple Trying to Get Into the Auto Industry

There have been rumours that Apple is thinking about taking a bite out of the auto industry soon. A newly filed lawsuit might confirm Apple’s intention, having A123 Systems, the company that makes car batteries for the big name auto makers, sue the Cupertino giant for trying to steal their employees.

Analysts in the industry have discussed what Apple might have in the works and the lawsuit now slowly confirms their findings. Apple has made $13 billion and $18 billion in the last two quarters and that’s about the sum spent by all automakers combines for four months of research and development.

However, the analysts state that electric cars are too expensive for just one owner. This means that we might be looking at a future where electric autonomous cars are shared between people and come at a monthly subscription, kind of like Uber if you think about it. This will drop the cost of charging the cars and having them running around 24h a day. If you think about it, it’s not all that bad. We might even cut down on parking space problems in highly dense populated areas for instance.

All in all, if the above tends to be more cost efficient, this means Tesla Motors should start changing its business plan too. Though Tesla does offer a lot of classy electric cars for owners using the same model as traditional car dealerships, the cost for maintaining and charging such a model still proves a big drawback for it to reach a wide consumer market. But are shared electric autonomous vehicles really the future?

Thank you Sci-Tech Today for providing us with this information
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No Packing Heat With Your Cab To Go

Since its inception in early 2009, Uber prides itself on being at the forefront of both convenience and also cutting edge technology which has made the relatively mundane task of requesting a cab as simple as ordering a Mocha Choca Latte (I checked and as long as I don’t put “Ya Ya” at the end, this does not infringe a Lady Marmalade lyric) Anyway, by tapping an app to request a cab, Uber has expanded into 57 countries and has generated over 8 million users and counting.

But as a recent policy change shows, Uber would like its cab drivers and also customers to be more approachable and has subsequently placed a “No weapons policy” within the Legal section of its terms and conditions. This certainly differs from Uber’s previous stance which stated in April 2015 that it was fine to carry a firearm as long as the country or state law permits it.

So why has Uber had a sudden change of heart? Well as is often the case with an unexpected policy change, it’s more reactionary and is in response to an Uber driver who shot a man who was firing a pistol into a gathering of people in Chicago.

From a spectators point of view it’s interesting to see two very different worlds collide, one which is up to date tech and the other fairly primitive. Uber would have made this decision to avoid any potential incidents like the one in Chicago, but the effectiveness of this policy change may be questionable considering Uber cannot influence or monitor both drivers and customer’s actions.

Thank You Uber for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of misiongeek and BizPac