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Tag Archives: transportation

Why Elon Musk isn’t the hero we imagined

Every now and again, there's a story of true human ingenuity that reminds us what we should aspire toward. Twelve children, trapped in a flooded cave system, were rescued by an international team of experts. Divers used their years of training and e...

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Waymo’s autonomous vehicles are driving 25,000 miles every day

Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, has driven 8 million miles on public roads using its autonomous vehicles. Waymo CEO John Krafcik shared the company’s milestone Friday while onstage with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval at the  National Governors Association  conference in Santa Fe, N.M. The figure is notable when compared to where Waymo was less than a year ago. In November, the company announced it had reached 4 million miles , meaning the company has been able to double the number of autonomous miles driven on public roads in just eight months.  Waymo’s fleet of self-driving vehicles are now logging 25,000 miles every day on public roads, Krafcik said.  He later tweeted out the stats along with a graphic. Waymo has 600 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans on the road in 25 cities. The company also relies on simulation as it works to build an AI-based self-driving system that performs better than a human. In the past nine years, Waymo has “driven” more than 5 billion miles in its simulation, according to the company. That’s the equivalent to 25,000 virtual cars driving all day, everyday, the company says. Waymo has self-driven 8 million miles on public roads, now at a rate of 25K miles per day. This real-world experience, plus over 5 billion miles in simulation, is how we're building the world’s most experienced driver. pic.twitter.com/VkfmLxwi2c — John Krafcik (@johnkrafcik) July 20, 2018 This newly shared goal signals Waymo is getting closer to launching a commercial driverless transportation service later this year. More than 400 residents in Phoenix have been trialing Waymo’s technology by using an app to hail self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The company says it plans to launch its service later this year. Waymo’s driverless ride-hailing service has received the most attention.

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Shared electric scooters probably won’t return to SF until August

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is still reviewing the 12 applications from companies to operate electric scooters in the city. In early June, companies like Uber, Lime, Bird, Lyft and others applied for permits to operate electric scooter-share services in San Francisco . San Francisco’s permit process came as a result of Bird, Lime and  Spin  deploying their electric scooters without permission in the city in March. As part of a new city law, which went into effect June 4, scooter companies are not able to operate their services in San Francisco without a permit. The SFMTA initially said it expected to make a decision about which five, if any, companies would receive permits by the end of June. Well, it’s now July and still no decision. The SFMTA expects to finalize its recommendations and documentation “in the coming weeks,” the SFMTA wrote in a blog post today . Once that’s done, the agency says it will work with companies to finalize and clarify the terms and conditions of the permit. The goal, according to the blog post, is to issue permits sometime in August. As part of the 24-month pilot program, electric scooter companies selected to operate in the city will need to provide user education and insurance, share its detailed trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data, offer a low-income plan and operate in a to-be-approved service area. The city will allow no more than 2,500 electric scooters on the streets at any one time.

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Autonomous trucking startup Embark lands $30 million in funding

Embark Trucks has raised $30 million in a Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital in its bid to be the first to develop and launch a commercially viable driverless truck. Sequoia partner Pat Grady has joined Embark’s board. Existing investors including Data Collective, YCombinator, SV Angel and AME Cloud also participated in the round, Embark announced Thursday. Embark, which was founded in 2016 , has raised $47 million to date. The autonomous trucking field is starting to become crowded. A number of companies, and more it seems every day, are all developing and testing autonomous trucks, including TuSimple, Starsky Robotics , Anthony Levandowski’s new company Kache.ai ,  Waymo , and Uber. Each competitor in this emerging industry has a slightly different approach with the same general aim. Embark, for instance, doesn’t want to replace the driver completely. The company, which  emerged publicly in February 2017,  envisions local drivers on the two tail ends of a long haul journey. A local driver would handle the piece from a warehouse to the interstate. From there, the driver would drop its freight and Embark’s self-driving system takes over, with a completely autonomous stint on the freeway. A local driver at the end of the trip would the freight to its final drop off point. The company believes its tech, once deployed, will help decrease the number of drivers needed for long-haul trips. Despite its relatively small size—there are just 35 employees—Embark has made considerable headway. Embark has now added operations in Los Angeles suburb Ontario, according to co-founder and CEO Alex Rodrigues who published Thursday a post on Medium on its new funding. The added operations places Embark in the middle of the West Coast’s biggest freight hubs, Rodrigues wrote, adding that the company’s presence in the region was the key to hitting its milestones for the first half of 2018.

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Euro startup FlixBus expands its $10 bus service in California

FlixBus , the low-cost bus service out of Europe, is doubling down on its U.S. launch. The parent company, FlixMobility, started cheap bus routes between Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson just two months ago. Now it’s adding another 16 connections throughout central and northern California. as well as Nevada and Arizona. The new connections, which begin Thursday, include California cities such as Bakersfield, Commerce, Fremont, Fresno, Gilroy, Kettleman City, Millbrae, Oakland, Richmond, Sacramento, Salinas, San Francisco, San Jose and Universal City. Tempe, Ariz. and Reno, Nev. have also been added. Several of these routes, including from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Bakersfield to Fresno and Oakland to Burbank are $9.99. FlixBus might be competing with traditional bus company Greyhound with fares between U.S. cities as low as $4.99. But it has a different business model that is more comparable to ride-hailing company Uber. FlixBus, which now operates in 28 countries, manages the ticketing, customer service, network planning, marketing and sale of its product

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Bird now offers discounts to people with low incomes

Bird, the scooter startup that has raised more than $400 million in funding, has introduced a program geared toward low-income people in order to increase access to transportation. Called One Bird, the program eliminates the $1 fee to unlock a Bird so that the rider just has to pay 15 cents per minute. “Everyone should have access to transportation that is accessible, affordable, and environmentally-friendly,” Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement. “One Bird makes this a reality by providing a way for everyone to ride Birds in their city. We warmly welcome all new riders, and encourage our current eligible riders to enroll in the program, so together we can create a community with fewer cars, less traffic, and reduced carbon emissions.” The program is live in every market where Bird operates, which includes cities like Atlanta, Austin, Santa Monica, Calif. and Washington, D.C. In order to sign up for One Bird, you have to either be enrolled in or eligible for a state or federal assistance program, like CalFresh, Medicaid, SNAP or a discounted utility bill. Eligible people can reach out to one@ bird .co to learn more. Lime, a bike- and scooter-share startup, has a similar program. In May, Lime launched Lime Access to enable people who qualify for state or federal assistance programs to purchase 100 rides on pedal bikes for $5. Increasing access to transportation has long been a talking point for companies like Uber, Lyft, Spin, Lime and Bird. In San Francisco, which still has yet to decide which companies will get to operate scooter services in the city, the Municipal Transportation Agency has asked companies to outline how they each plan to support people in low-income communities. For Bird, offering discounted rides appears to be one of its strategies. You can read more about the scooter wars here. Silicon Valley scooter wars

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Uber partners with Cargo to help drivers make money by selling stuff to riders

Uber has teamed up with Cargo, a startup that makes it easy for ride-share drivers to sell goods to their passengers. Cargo works by giving drivers free boxes, filled with goods like gum, phone chargers and snacks, to sell to passengers from the center of the car console. Cargo, which has partnered with brands like Kellogg’s, Starbucks and Mars Wrigley Confectionary, provides these boxes to drivers for free. The only requirement is that drivers must have at least a 4.7 rating and be relatively active on the platform, Cargo founder and CEO Jeff Cripe told TechCrunch. Each Cargo box comes with both free samples and items for purchase. Drivers earn at least $1 per order, even if what the rider gets is free. Starting today, Uber drivers in San Francisco and Los Angeles can pick up Cargo boxes at one of Uber’s driver support locations, called Greenlight Hubs. While this is an exclusive business partnership, Cargo will continue to let drivers sell its goods even if they don’t drive for Uber.  Since launching in 2017, about 7,000 drivers have made more than $1 million. On an annual basis, drivers can earn between $1,500 – $3,000 in additional income. This seems like a great deal for drivers and also a way for Uber to attract and retain drivers. As it stands today, customers request and pay for goods via Cargo’s mobile site, but down the road, Uber envisions integrating Cargo’s functionality into its app. To date, Cargo has raised $7.3 million in funding.

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