March in Africa: Uber on motorcycles, Spotify’s arrival, and solar panels

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It’s been on the cards for a while, and now it is finally here. Introducing “Uber for motorcycle taxis” in Africa. Yes, Uber has finally introduced a ride-hailing service for motorbike taxis — locally called “boda bodas” — in Uganda. Uber has company, however, in the form of rival Taxify, which has rolled out its own boda boda service in Kampala, with both apps going head-to-head with local alternative SafeBoda. Uber, meanwhile, is appealing the ban on its services in Egypt and has expanded its UberEATS service to a host of new African countries. In other major global company news…

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New York approves surcharge for Uber and Lyft rides in Manhattan

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As part of the budget that New York lawmakers passed last Friday, ride-hailing services and taxis face a new fee if they drive in Manhattan. These aren't nickel-and-dime increases, either: Uber, Lyft and the like face a $ 2.75 charge for each ride, ta…
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Uber is shutting down its on-demand delivery service, UberRush

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UberRUSH

Uber is shutting down UberRush, its on-demand delivery service, reports TechCrunch. The company said in an email to customers that it will be ending the program on June 30th, 2018.

The company launched the on-demand delivery service in 2014 in Manhattan, which allowed users to hire someone to pick up a package and deliver it to another location. The company later expanded the service to Chicago and San Francisco in 2015, but while it opened its Application Program Interface (API) for private businesses to use it as a delivery option, it never expanded beyond those three cities. In April 2017, Uber announced that restaurants would no longer be able to use the service, shifting food delivery over to another program, UberEats. A…

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Uber is shutting down its on-demand delivery service in June

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On June 30th, Uber will sunset its on-demand delivery service for laundry, groceries, flowers and just about anything under 30 pounds that's not an illegal item or, say, a cute pet. The ride-hailing service has notified its users in an email that it'…
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Uber Settles with Family of AV Crash Victim

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Uber has reached a settlement with the family of Elaine Herzberg, the 49-year-old woman struck and killed by one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles (AVs) on March 18. The terms of the Uber settlement were not disclosed.

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“The matter has been resolved,” the family’s lawyer Cristina Perez Hesano told Reuters. The firm representing Herzberg’s daughter and husband said the two would not comment further on Herzberg’s death.

The Uber saga may be over for Herzberg’s family, but it continues for the company and other AV manufacturers.

Earlier this week, Arizona governor Doug Ducey banned Uber from testing its AVs in the state, though the company had already suspended all testing across the nation. Two other AV manufacturers, Toyota and Nvidia, also suspended their AV testing on public roads in the wake of the accident.

Neither Toyota nor Nvidia gave any indication they were suspending testing for fear of their own AVs causing similar accidents, though. Toyota said the suspension was out of concern that the accident may have “an emotional effect” on its drivers, while Nvidia’s Chief Executive Jensen Huang said it was out of respect for the victim.

The dozens of other AV manufacturers appear determined to continue moving forward with testing.

“The tragedy in Arizona is something that I think should give everyone pause,” Lyft President John Zimmer told reporters on Tuesday. “But you also have to remember the goal of autonomy — where you have about a hundred people dying every day from vehicle-related accidents  and the goal I think is to take that to zero.”

If it took autonomous [vehicles] one day more because of this to get to market, that could be a hundred people’s lives that are at risk,” Zimmer continued.

Hopefully, the Uber settlement will give Herzberg’s family the ability to begin to move on from this tragedy. Officials will continue to investigate the accident to see what, if anything, could have prevented it.

The post Uber Settles with Family of AV Crash Victim appeared first on Futurism.

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The co-founder of self-driving trucking startup Otto has left Uber

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Lior Ron co-founded Otto with Anthony Levandowski before selling the company to Uber.

A top self-driving tech executive at Uber has left the company.

Lior Ron, who co-founded trucking startup Otto, has left the company a little less than two years after Uber acquired his startup.

Ron headed up the business development side of Uber’s trucking business, Uber Freight. Uber Freight is a logistics platform that connects companies or people with payloads that need to be shipped with long-haul truckers. The company is also working on self-driving trucks that will eventually leverage that platform.

“We remain fully invested in and excited about the future of Uber Freight,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “Since launching in Texas, we have introduced Freight to all states in the continental U.S. We believe it will continue to grow as we use our network and technology to transform the trucking industry.”

Nonetheless, the departure comes at an inopportune time for Uber, as the company faces questions over its self-driving technology and fallout after a recent fatal self-driving crash in Tempe, Ariz.

However, in the last year there has been a bit of controversy surrounding Ron, who used to work at Google Maps.

Ron was a central figure in his former employer’s recent lawsuit against Uber. Alphabet sued Uber over trade-secret misappropriation after the ride-hail company acquired Otto. Alphabet alleged that Anthony Levandowski, Ron’s co-founder, had stolen proprietary files about self-driving sensors to bring to Uber.

Alphabet and Uber have since agreed to settle the suit. As part of the settlement, Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi — who was not at the company when the deal was brokered — conceded that the company could have handled the acquisition better, but denied that there were any stolen files at Uber.

During the lawsuit, it was revealed that both Levandowski and Ron had proprietary files on their personal devices. Neither Ron nor Levandowski were named in the suit, however.

But Ron’s desire to sell Otto to Uber was fueled by a desire to commercialize self-driving trucks, he testified during the Alphabet trial.That’s why he chose to sell to Uber instead of Lyft or stay at Alphabet, he said.

Even before Alphabet filed the suit against Uber over its purchase of Otto, the acquisition caused some internal tension within the company’s self-driving department. Part of that stemmed from confusion about whether the priority for Uber’s development efforts should be the trucks or the cars.

That tension is partially what led to stalled technological progress with the technology, several sources told Recode in March 2017.

The company had seemingly made progress — at least on the trucking front. Uber’s self-driving trucks began delivering freight in Arizona earlier this month. In the wake of the fatal Tempe crash, however, all of Uber’s self-driving operations have been halted in the state.

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Uber settles with family of pedestrian hit by its self-driving SUV

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Tempe Police are still investigating the fatal crash where an Uber autonomous SUV struck and killed a pedestrian and there are many questions about the safety of its procedures and technology. However, one aspect of the case has been resolved, as Reu…
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Uber will not reapply for its permit to test self-driving cars in California

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The company’s permit expires next week.

Uber has decided not to reapply to test its self-driving technology on public roads in California in the wake of a fatal crash involving one of its vehicles in Arizona.

Which means that Uber, which has been testing more than 20 cars in California, will no longer be able to operate its autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state after next week, when the existing permit expires. The company had already stopped testing all its self-driving vehicles after the Arizona crash. Uber said it does not know when it will reapply to test its cars in California.

“We proactively suspended our self-driving operations, including in California, immediately following the Tempe incident,” Uber spokesperson Sarah Abboud said in a statement. “Given this, we decided not to reapply for California DMV permit with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate on public roads in the immediate future.”

If Uber wants to renew the permit, it will have to address the results from the ongoing investigation into the crash in Arizona, California Department of Motor Vehicles deputy director Brian Soublet wrote in a letter to Uber.

The ride-hail company’s relationship with the state’s DMV got off to a rocky start when Uber rolled out its autonomous cars in California without applying for the proper permits in 2016. The California DMV ultimately revoked the registration of the vehicles Uber was testing, forcing the company to ship those vehicles to Arizona.

At the time, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey welcomed Uber into the state.

However, Ducey suspended Uber’s self-driving operations in the state indefinitely as of Monday evening.

“Arizona will not tolerate any less than an unequivocal commitment to public safety,” Ducey wrote in a letter to Uber.

The governor’s office told Recode that it is waiting to see the results of the investigation into the crash before it made any further decision.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have joined Tempe, Ariz., police in investigating the cause of the crash. Based on the results of the investigation, Uber could face criminal charges. The Tempe police will submit their findings to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

The ride-hail company says it is cooperating with the investigation.

Here’s the California DMV’s letter to Uber:

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Uber won’t renew its permit to test self-driving cars in California

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Uber will not renew its permit to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California — further evidence that the company is pulling back from its aggressive plans to launch a self-driving service in the wake of a fatal crash in Arizona which resulted in the death of a pedestrian.

In a letter, the California DMV confirmed that Uber’s authority to test self-driving cars in the state will end March 31st following the decision not to renew its license. A spokesperson for Uber confirmed that it would not seek to continue testing in California in light of the crash in Arizona. Federal investigators are currently probing the cause of the crash.

“We proactively suspended our self-driving operations, including in California, immediately…

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Uber has agreed to settle a class action discrimination suit for $10 million

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Three female software engineers filed a lawsuit against the company, saying Uber’s compensation practices were discriminatory.

Uber is trying to tie up its legal woes one by one under the tutelage of its new executive team led by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The company has agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed last year by three female software engineers for $ 10 million.

The lawsuit represented a class of 420 engineers who identified as women or people of color and claimed that the company’s payment system was discriminatory.

The suit, filed in October 2017 — just months after Susan Fowler published her own account of discrimination at the company — alleged that Uber’s compensation and promotion structure favored men and white or Asian employees.

As part of the settlement, Uber has agreed to enhance its systems for compensations and reviews, and to regularly report diversity metrics. Company executives will also participate in a twice-yearly review of diversity growth, the pipeline and efforts to increase the representation of women and people of color.

The plaintiffs who originally filed the lawsuit on behalf of the class — Ingrid Avendano, Ana Medina and Roxana Del Toro Lopez — worked in the same engineering department as Fowler. In fact, according to emails Recode previously obtained, both Avendano and Medina had vocalized their concern over the department’s mismanagement of Fowler’s issues on a number of occasions.

“This is a very strong settlement that provides real value to class members for the discrimination and harassment they suffered, while ensuring that Uber reforms its employment practices to prevent future discrimination and harassment,” Jahan Sagafi, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “We look forward to monitoring those reforms until late 2021.”

A judge still has to determine whether to accept the terms of the settlement, but an Uber spokesperson pointed out that the company has made a number of changes to the way it handles pay, and emphasized diversity efforts made by the company that address many of the stipulations in the settlement.

“This settlement involves claims dating back to July 2013 and, while we are continually improving as a company, we have proactively made a lot of changes since then,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “In the past year alone we have implemented a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauled our performance review process, published our first Diversity & Inclusion report and created and delivered diversity and leadership trainings to thousands of employees globally.”

Most recently, Uber hired its first chief diversity officer, Bo Young Lee, as Recode first reported.

Uber also published its first-ever diversity report in the months after Fowler’s essay went viral. As a young company focused on growth, Uber had long thought the primary role of its human resources department was to recruit talent. Under Uber’s then-CEO Travis Kalanick, the company declined to publish its diversity stats because Kalanick didn’t think they were a useful metric for the company, as Recode first reported.

But now the company has introduced new efforts to enhance its inclusion of women and people of color, including delivering diversity training for many of its employees.

Uber also raised salaries for all employees to help close the gender pay gap in July of 2017 — an endeavor that likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars, as The Information reported at the time.

Here’s the proposed settlement agreement:

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