Uber


'Uber' Articles Page 3

Apple's Huge Investment in Didi Chuxing Was Behind Uber China Deal

Over the weekend we reported that Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing had agreed to acquire the Chinese operations of rival Uber in a deal worth $35 billion. In a Reuters story filed yesterday, sources close to both companies revealed that Apple's $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing was the driving factor in Uber's decision to agree to the deal, in return for a one-fifth stake in a bigger Didi. "The Apple investment is one of the factors that influenced the decision," a person close to the companies told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "Both sides raised enormous amounts of capital. They were probably thinking this was going to escalate to nuclear warfare, which raised the question: do we really want to assure mutual destruction?"According to the sources, Didi raised far more money than Uber China, which was forced to subsidize its operations in the country using profits it had made in the U.S., Canada, and about 100 cities elsewhere. The company's relinquishment of its independence in China marks the first failure in Uber's strategy of outspending its biggest competitors. In June, Didi secured $7.3 billion in funding from investors including Apple, China Life Insurance Co Ltd, Ant Financial and other new shareholders, giving the company a $28 billion valuation that made it the world's third highest-valued start-up. The company says it now has $10.5 billion in available funds, thanks to backing from Chinese Internet giants Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings. "Apple's investment in Didi likely spurred Uber to think harder about doing

Uber to Invest $500 Million in Global Mapping Project Led By Google Earth Creator

Ride hailing company Uber is planning to spend $500 million on a global mapping project in an effort to reduce its reliance on Google Maps, according to The Financial Times. The San Fransisco-based company already has mapping vehicles recording geographical data around the U.S. and Mexico. With Uber's presence in over 60 countries, the significant expansion reflects its continuing growth and adds to its existing investment in original research like driverless cars. Last year, it hired world-leading digital mapping expert Brian McClendon, who previously ran Google Maps and was one of the creators of Google Earth. McClendon will be responsible for the mapping project, and recently commented on the plans in a blog post without mentioning the $500 million figure: The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we're doubling down on our investment in mapping. Our efforts are similar to what other companies including Apple and TomTom are already doing around the world. The street imagery captured by our mapping cars will help us improve core elements of the Uber experience, like ideal pick-up and drop-off points and the best routes for riders and drivers. Address data in Google Maps is typically less accurate in developing countries, resulting in some Uber drivers having to call passengers to ask for their location before a pick-up. Uber hopes to nix these problems and feed the traffic pattern and location data already gathered by its cars into its own mapping system, thereby also avoiding charges for using Google Maps. News of Uber's

Apple-Backed Didi Chuxing to Purchase Uber's Ride-Hailing Operations in China

Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing is set to acquire the Chinese operations of rival Uber in a $35 billion deal, reports Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. Apple notably invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing back in May, giving Apple access to data and expertise on electric and autonomous car technology, as well as a foot in the door with the Chinese investment community. The valuation of the combined ride-hailing company is $35 billion, the people said. Investors in Uber China, an entity owned by San Francisco-based Uber, Baidu Inc. and others, will receive a 20 percent stake in the combined company, the people said. Uber will continue to operate its own app in China for now. Didi is making a $1 billion investment in Uber at a $68 billion valuation, people familiar with the matter said.As noted in a forthcoming blog post by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick that was obtained by Bloomberg, neither Uber nor Didi Chuxing has turned a profit in China despite billions of dollars in investment, and combining operations will help smooth the path to profitability and a sustainable business. Apple is of course widely rumored to be working on its own car-related project dubbed Project Titan, an effort that is an "open secret" in Silicon Valley according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The most recent developments with Project Titan include a new chief in veteran Apple executive Bob Mansfield and a new focus on autonomous driving software that could give Apple flexibility beyond plans to build its own

Uber Debuts Safety-Focused Update, Citing Positive Impact on Drunk Driving

Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday in the United States, ride hailing app Uber today announced a suite of safety improvements for its driver app, aimed at "predicting, preventing and reducing the number of crashes on the road." The update comes in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Governor's Highway Safety Association, and focuses on parsing out more information to the company's drivers to ensure the safety of its customers. As part of the update, Uber will send out daily reports to drivers with detailed statistics showing their driving patterns, as well as comparisons to other drivers in the city, "with suggestions on how to provide a smoother, safer ride." According to a more detailed report in the company's engineering blog, multiple readings taken from GPS and accelerometer data in the smartphone will fuel these statistics, and also provide a new "speed display" in the driver app to alert them of potentially passing the speed limit. Other basic features include reminders to take a break and safety messages to inform drivers about regulations from Uber, like mounting their smartphone to the dashboard instead of holding it in their hands while driving. The safety-focused update will begin as a rollout in 11 United States cities (the company left which cities unspecified) in the next couple of weeks, with more planned to be added after that. In addition to the new features of its driver-focused Partner App, in today's blog post the company remarked on the overall positive impact that Uber has had on drunk driving accidents, specifically

Uber Update Spotlights 'Upfront Fares' While Burying Surge Pricing Notifications

Ride hailing app Uber has begun testing a version of its app in six United States cities, with a new UI that makes periods of surge pricing more subtle to discover for users. Surge pricing is a term dedicated to windows when riders greatly exceed drivers, resulting in heightened fare prices due to the increased demand. When this would happen prior to Uber's new test, anyone signing into the app would get a pop-up notification that surge pricing was in effect, along with a general multiplier that they would have to add into their driving fare to figure out its total cost. The update nixes both features, simultaneously making it harder to know when surge pricing is in effect without notifications, but also benefitting users thanks to an "upfront fare" with "no complicated math and no surprises," according to Uber. Upfront fares are calculated using the expected time and distance of the trip and local traffic, as well as how many riders and nearby drivers are using Uber at that moment. And when fares go up due to increased demand, instead of surge lightning bolts and pop-up screens, riders are given the actual fare before they request their ride. There’s no complicated math and no surprises: passengers can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Now, when users want to know when surge pricing is in effect, a faint line of text references "increased demand" beneath their fare. The company is testing the upfront fare system in New York City, Miami, San Diego, Philadelphia, Seattle, and some parts of New Jersey, in addition to five cities in India: New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai,

Uber in Talks With Fiat Chrysler Over Self-Driving Car Partnership

Ride hailing company Uber has held talks with Fiat Chrysler about a potential partnership involving self-driving car technology, according to The Wall Street Journal. The discussions are reported to be at a preliminary stage and a deal is yet to be confirmed, cautioned people familiar with the matter. Google uses Chrysler Pacifica Minivans in its self-driving initiative (Image: Chrysler) Chrysler is believed to be just one of several automobile makers that Uber has been in talks with in recent weeks, amid a "frenzy" of global alliances as the role of technology in transportation increases. Uber's desire to seek new partners follows Apple's $1 billion investment in Chinese ride hailing startup Didi Chuxing last month, while similar partnerships have occurred between the likes of General Motors and Lyft earlier this year. Also last month, Fiat Chrysler said it was working with Google to redesign the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid minivan and integrate its computers, sensors and software for testing purposes, in the same way that Google's own self-driving cars are currently a purely experimental initiative. Uber began its own autonomous driving project last year after hiring several robotics researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and opening its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. Testing has begun in that city and Uber plans to incorporate self-driving vehicles into its fleet by 2020. In related news yesterday, speaking at Alphabet's stockholder meeting, executive chairman Eric Schmidt responded to an audience question about when self-driving cars

Uber Attempts to Address Driver Concerns With New App Update

Uber recently introduced a couple of new features into its driver-focused Partner App, intended to address some issues that the company's drivers have with the service, namely destination requests and rider wait fees (via The Verge). The company says that the updates are directed at removing a few of the pains with driving for Uber, and less about addressing ongoing litigation generated by its opposers. One of the biggest new features is a way for drivers to specify a route on which they can pick up and drop off riders. This way, if a driver is already leaving the house with a location in mind, or going home, the Uber app will filter out any riders that aren't on their intended route. This addition has been tested in San Francisco for a while, but is beginning to see a wider rollout today. Images via The Verge The company is also letting drivers more easily end or pause their rider pick up requests. In the "current trips" section of the app, drivers will be able to toggle a slider to "go offline," letting them prevent incoming requests before their current trip ends. Uber hopes it'll let its drivers end their sessions before a rider hails their car, and potentially gives them a poor rating when the pick up is declined. The update also supports the launch of Uber's fee system that charges riders for making a driver wait longer than two minutes at a pick up location. According to Uber, "In the cities where we’ve been testing this, we’ve seen that riders are more likely to be prompt." An expansion of its branded debit card -- intended to help drivers receive

Uber Adds Foursquare Location Data to its Address-Finding Arsenal

Ride hailing company Uber has agreed a deal with Foursquare to use its location information in Uber's app to enhance its address finding capabilities (via Mashable). Uber's deal with the local search and discovery service will see its app incorporate Foursquare's Places data, so that riders can find the addresses for exact locations simply by typing in the restaurant or venue name. Currently, the app is consistently able to find addresses to popular destinations like airports and chain restaurants, but can struggle to find relevant addresses for specifically-named, lesser known venues. "Foursquare will enable Uber to customize, improve and increase the breadth of our non-personal POI [points of interest] location data to enhance Uber's rider and driver experience," Foursquare wrote in a blog post. "Also, these modifications will be incorporated into Foursquare's venue database going forward." The deal was described by Foursquare as a "global, multi-year agreement", but the company declined to give financial figures. Uber follows the likes of Microsoft and Pinterest in leveraging Foursquare's location data over the years, but according to Mashable, the Uber deal is a significant milestone in Foursquare's transition towards a more data-driven, Yelp-like business model, away from its original strategy as a check-in service – a feature no longer included in the Foursquare app. Earlier this week, Foursquare announced the launch of a new, separate app called Marsbot, which the company billed as "your trusted friend that can recommend places to you by

Uber Enters Race to Perfect Driverless Vehicle Technology

Uber has announced it is currently testing self-driving car technology with a view to completely remove the need for drivers from its ride-hailing service. According to a statement by the company posted online yesterday, the initial testing phase is being conducted on the streets of Pittsburgh, using a hybrid Ford Fusion fitted with various sensors including radar, laser scanners and cameras. The test vehicle from Uber's Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) collects mapping data as it travels, while a trained driver monitors operations in the car at all times. The driverless project is being carried out in partnership with Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University. Uber says it is pursuing the goal of inducting autonomous vehicles into its fleet by 2020. Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world.  1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission to make transportation as reliable as running water — everywhere and for everyone.Uber joins an accelerating industry race for the mainstream introduction of self-driving cars, with Tesla already developing the technology and multiple Chinese firms also making headway. There have been indications suggesting Apple

Uber Begins Testing Color-Coded Rider Pickup System 'SPOT' in Seattle

Uber yesterday announced SPOT, a new initiative to make sure drivers and riders experience less hassle finding one another in dark or crowded areas. The technology will allow someone calling for an Uber to designate a specific color so that their driver can easily spot them when arriving at the pickup location. SPOT is the latest experiment in our ongoing effort to make Uber pickups as seamless as possible. When riders and drivers can easily find each other, we’re able to trim down wait times, which is a win for everyone. We hope you’ll have a chance to experience SPOT in the coming weeks. Beginning exclusively in Seattle, the new program will give Uber drivers a small "SPOT Device," attached to their windshield. When a user requests a SPOT-enabled vehicle, they're asked to pick a specific color within the app while waiting. When the app prompts the rider that the vehicle is driving up, they can take the app out and display their color to the driver, or simply look for their chosen color in the windshield of the car. The company didn't give any mention if, or when, SPOT would make it to other cities after its test run in Seattle. Those that have yet to do so can download Uber from the App Store for free [Direct Link