Tu Simple UPS

Didi Chuxing Preparing to Enter South Korea, and a New Startup Takes on Uber and Lyft

This past week, UPS announced an expansion of its autonomous freight vehicle program, Porsche invests in new tech to help improve AV safety, and Nomad Rides prepares to take on Uber and Lyft.

This Week in Mobility ― August 30, 2019

Nomad Rides Vows to Beat Uber and Lyft

Though Uber and Lyft currently have a combined 98% of the rideshare market, Nomad Rides wants to shake up the industry.

The startup began a new service back in February that charges riders less and pays drivers more. Nomad uses a subscription model, charging riders a flat $25 per month for unlimited rides. They claim to charge riders 20 percent less than Uber and Lyft and pay their drivers 20 percent more.

Nomad Rides began at the University of Indiana in Bloomington and the results were impressive: in 61 days, they completed 5,700 rides. Now, the startup has caught the attention of Silicon Valley and is a part of the Y Combinator.

With mounting pressure on Uber and Lyft to treat their riders better, the market will be receptive to companies like Nomad. With a flat monthly fee, riders can better plan transportation expenses and not have to worry about price hikes during peak demand.

The idea isn’t without challenges. In cities where the cost of fuel and transportation is higher, prices will have to be adjusted. Also, frequent travelers will have to have a “home base” in order to accurately price their services. Will the idea take off? Most definitely. With the backing of Y Combinator, Nomad Rides is on its way to becoming a household name.

UPS Expands Self-Driving Partnership Program

We reported back in May on the new partnership between USPS and self-driving trucking company TuSimple. Apparently, they’ve also caught the eye of UPS and have been working with them on a similar program.

The Level 4 Autonomous trucks have been running on five different routes between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, since May. Both a safety driver and engineer have been riding in the trucks as required by law, though the computer is in complete control.

As mounting pressure and regulations continue to pile up in the ridesharing industry, we’ve been reporting on how these same concepts are solving huge problems in the logistics sector.

TuSimple is doing a great job of securing big-name clients and successfully testing their trucks. What’s next for TuSimple? Only time will tell. Now that Florida no longer requires drivers in AVs, maybe the company should head down to the Sunshine State for a little further testing.

Porsche Invests in Israeli Startup to Improve Vehicle Safety Features

On Wednesday, Porsche announced it has acquired a minority stake in an Israeli startup that specializes in the manufacture of short-wave infrared (SWIR) cameras.

TriEye has come up with a new way to manufacture SWIR cameras that cost less than the current model. These cameras are often used to help human drivers see in foggy conditions and extreme weather. SWIR cameras can also assist autonomous vehicles in the same way.

The amount of the investment was undisclosed, but since Porsche also owns Volkswagen, this will provide a less-expensive route for safety features on cars with a smaller price tag.

As companies like TriEye begin to come up with less expensive ways to make parts necessary to the safe operating of AVs, expect innovation to increase.

Didi Prepares to Enter South Korea

Industry experts say Didi Chuxing is poised to begin operations in South Korea next year through an affiliate, Mirae Ohsung.

The Chinese ridehailing giant made headlines recently when it announced it was opening up its infamous app to allow smaller competitors to offer rides to customers on its platform. The service began a few weeks ago. It’s a win-win for Didi and small companies that don’t have the same name recognition or advanced technology.

According to Mirae Ohsung, they’ve finished development of the mobile platform and are waiting for Didi’s approval. In addition to traditional ridehailing, Mirae is also offering a taxi service and a van service with vans that hold 10 passengers.

Nothing is final yet, and the taxi and van service offerings haven’t been confirmed. As the Chinese economy continues to experience problems, global expansion is just what Didi needs to compete with household names like Uber.

Ocean Spray Teams Up With Uber Freight to Help With Supply Chain

As transportation costs continue to soar, Ocean Spray announced it’s teaming up with Uber Freight to transport goods from their processing and distribution centers to stores around the nation.

Uber Freight is a relatively new player on the logistics scene. Unlike other companies, Uber doesn’t do the delivering. They simply provide the app that connects companies with small transportation carriers to get goods delivered.

The food industry has strict regulations on the delivery of produce and perishable goods. Food must be delivered within 36 hours of pickup.

Will Uber Freight provide some stability to a company that’s been losing big lately? It’s hard to tell. There are so many new services offered by the ridehailing megacorporation, it seems that they are losing focus.

That’s the news for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s roundup.


Dominos rad power e-bike

Domino’s Pizza Announces New Delivery Program, Waymo Headed to FL for Extreme Weather Testing and Much More

This Week in Mobility ― August 23, 2019

This past week, a new Oregon carsharing project in Hood River won a large federal grant, Waymo announces a new testing program in Florida, and Domino’s announces a new plan to compete with the likes of UberEats and Postmates.

Oregon Carsharing Project Gets $548K Federal Grant

Though car sharing services are common in big cities, the electric vehicle advocates at Forth are trying to change that.

The Department of Energy awarded a $548,540 grant to the Portland, Oregon, group (formerly called Drive Oregon) to help them place five plug-in vehicles in rural communities.

American Honda has loaned the group five Clarity electric vehicles. The EVs will be stationed at one of five charging stations in Hood River, Oregon. Customers can rent the cars through Envoy Technologies.

This is definitely a step in the right direction, but a lot of challenges lie ahead for the program. Customers have to get to the vehicles in order to use them, which can be challenging. Also, there’s a lack of reliable internet service in many rural areas, which makes using the necessary platform to rent a car nearly impossible.

But these challenges can be overcome. It’s exciting to see electric cars start to make their way into rural communities, where they are desperately needed.

DoorDash Takes a Play Straight Out of UberEats’ Playbook

Less than a month after UberEats announced a partnership with the Olo Rails restaurant software, DoorDash came out with a similar announcement.

Revention, a restaurant software maker, announced last week it’s partnering with DoorDash for delivery services.

According to a press release on Yahoo! Finance, the partnership allows restaurants to use DoorDash for delivery and “streamlining existing delivery operations to accommodate for peak times, unexpected surge of orders, downtime, and service outside of standard areas”

While these partnerships have obvious benefits for both the delivery service and the software makers, small, locally-owned restaurants benefit as well.

Small restaurants that invest in tech platforms like Revention and Olo can compete with franchises and corporate-owned restaurants by offering delivery services.

Waymo to Test AVs in Florida During Heavy Rain

Now that driverless cars are allowed to operate in Florida without a safety driver, Waymo is taking advantage of the new regulation.

Even though Florida is sunny most of the year, June 1 through November 30 is hurricane season. Heavy rain is typical during this time of year, even if the state isn’t directly hit with a hurricane.

That’s why Waymo is headed to the Sunshine State during the soggiest season of the year. The company is going to test its autonomous vehicles at a track in Naples, Florida, during rainstorms to see how well the cameras and sensors hold up.

This isn’t the first time Waymo has used extreme weather to its advantage. The AV vehicle maker began testing their vehicles during extreme winter weather in Michigan back in 2017.

As AV manufacturers look to create cars that hold up under any and all weather conditions, expect to see more than just Waymo headed to Florida to battle-test their prototypes.

Nigerian Logistics Startup Kobo360 Raises $30M

According to TechCrunch, Kobo360 recently raised a combined $30 million in a Series A funding round and working capital from various Nigerian banks.

Kubo360 matches companies, truckers and delivery services on an app that works similar to Uber. The logistics startup began in 2017 and has an impressive client roster that includes Unilever, DHL, and Honeywell.

The Series A round was led by Goldman Sachs and totaled $20 million, while the working capital from Nigerian banks totaled $10 million.

We’ve reported before on how companies like TuSimple and Phantom Auto are tackling big problems in the logistics industry. As startups like Kobo360 begin to receive more resources to streamline delivery services, what began as Uber is now solving problems the company never thought to tackle.

Dominos Will Start Testing Ebike Delivery Service in Select Cities This Year

In an effort to compete with delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats, Domino’s announced a new ebike pizza delivery program.

Rad Power Bikes has teamed up with Domino’s to provide the pedal power for pizza deliveries.

According to Domino’s, the innovative pizza delivery service will begin rolling out the new delivery program in its corporate stores later this year. Instead of a full-scale deployment, Domino’s will start with its Baltimore, Houston, Miami, and Salt Lake City locations.

Rad Power Bikes Commercial Division will be handling the partnership. According to the company’s blog, Rad’s B2B sales increased 600 percent between 2017 and 2018.

Will Domino’s be able to bring up its bottom line? Probably so. The pizza king has continually been at the forefront of innovation in the restaurant industry. If you’re craving some cheesy goodness, you can order Domino’s Pizza on Twitter, Slack, and even Alexa. With innovation like that, they’ll continue to thrive.


Optimus Ride New York

Autonomous Shuttle Opens in Brooklyn, Uber Health to Provide Medical Transport to Anthem Patients

This past week, Optimus Ride starts their self-driving shuttle service in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, Postmates gets the OK to start testing robo-deliveries in San Francisco, and Uber Health scores a huge win for their new medical transportation service.

This Week in Mobility ― August 16, 2019

Postmates to Test Serve Robots in San Francisco

San Francisco Public Works confirmed Postmates will be testing their new Serve robots in the city. The permit hasn’t yet been issued, and it’s unclear when deliveries will begin.

This is the second robo-delivery test for Postmates. Back in 2017, the company partnered with robot manufacturer Starship Technologies to test robo-deliveries in Washington, DC. DoorDash also tested Starship Tech robots in Redwood City, CA.

Postmates Serve robots can carry up to 50 pounds over short distances and include a touchscreen for customer interaction. Customers order via the Postmates app as normal and are provided with an unlock code to get their deliveries.

Will robo-deliveries replace the need for human drivers? Not hardly. Postmates sees its Serve fleet as a way to lower the cost of short-range deliveries. Because the robots travel at low speed on city sidewalks using lidar sensors, there’s no way they could replace Postmates drivers. At least not yet.

Optimus Ride Self-Driving Shuttle Opens in Brooklyn

Autonomous shuttle service began in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard last Tuesday.

Optimus Ride partnered up with The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation to provide six AVs to provide transportation from the ferry to workers in the area.

The shuttle operates between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. in a loop from the ferry to the entrance. Currently, there are two other free shuttles that provide transportation to 13 subway lines, but there was no transportation to and from the ferry.

With over 10,000 workers, Brooklyn’s Navy Yard is known for being highly congested and not easily accessible from the ferry. This new service will change that.

Is it possible that the AV shuttle will replace the other two shuttle lines that run to the subway? It’s unclear at this time. Until Optimus Ride gets the kinks worked out, probably not.

MEVP Invests $2M in Pakistani Startup Bykea

Dubai-based Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) announced it has invested $2 million in Pakistani-based startup Bykea.

Bykea is similar to Didi Chuxing, and services run the gamut from mobile payments to ride-hailing to food delivery.

The investment was part of Bykea’s $5.7 million Series A round of investments. It is the largest investment round for any Pakistan-based startup ever.

Pakistan is ripe for a service like this. Bykea claims to have a network of 200,000 drivers and over two million app users so far. In a country of 200 million people where getting around is difficult due to traffic and lack of access to vehicles, Bykea fills a huge need.

But there’s plenty of competition for Bykea. Other companies include Pathao, Parsel, and ShadowFax. However, these companies are all based in other countries. Bykea differentiates itself by being the only app with an interface in Urdu, the country’s official language.

Bykea has a long road ahead. By continuing to raise investor capital and differentiating themselves from the competition, they are sure to become Pakistan’s biggest logistics vendor yet.

Car Rental App Car2Go Significantly Raises Rates

In order to keep up with rising costs and competition from ridesharing companies like Uber, rental app company Car2Go is increasing their rates.

The company rents cars by the minute and is changing rates to reflect how busy the service is. Car2Go’s new pricing structure is similar to Uber and Lyft. Advertised prices will show floor rates, which are the lowest possible per minute rates for a rental. Actual prices will vary.

The company decreased prices on its 24-hour pass from $79 to $70, but there’s a per-mile charge of 19 cents.

Another change encourages drivers to return cars to a particular zone. Drivers who return cars to “outer zones” will be charged an additional $5.

We think these price hikes are a bad idea. All this will do is confuse current customers. With a pricing structure similar to Uber and Lyft, customers are more likely to catch a ride rather than deal with the hassle of renting a car they have to drive themselves.

Uber Health Scores Big in New National Partnership

Uber Health recently announced its partnership with American Logistics Company,one of the nation’s largest medical transportation providers.

American Logistics provides health insurance companies with transportation services to help enrollees get to and from doctor’s appointments. Their biggest client is Anthem, which is the second-largest health insurance company in the United States.

Non-Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT) is a fast-growing industry, as insurance companies see immense value in helping their clients get to and from doctor’s appointments. This cuts down on the number of emergency room visits and saves insurers money.

Is Uber Health the answer to the company’s big losses? Maybe. However, regulatory hurdles make it expensive to ensure HIPAA compliance.

Cargo Uber

Cargo Box Review – How Uber and Lyft Drivers Can Earn More

(Disclosure – We independently research our content to provide free advice for you. We may get compensation if you sign up with services, or purchase products through our affiliate links.)

If you’re a rideshare driver, you might be wondering about ways that you can make more money.

The average hourly earnings of a rideshare driver can wildly vary depending on many factors like area population, weather, local rideshare laws, and how generously riders tip. While Uber and Lyft drivers can earn up to $25 per hour in larger markets, in more rural areas, earnings are often substantially lower.

If you’re looking to supplement your earnings, especially during those long times being stuck in traffic where you can’t easily pick up more passengers, a Cargo Box is a simple way to do this.

How Does Cargo Work?

Cargo is a mutually beneficial program for rideshare drivers that offers the opportunity to get better ratings and tips, plus commission for products sold, and more convenience for passengers.

The Cargo Box is a case that is installed in your car’s center console and contains snacks, beverages, tech accessories, and beauty products as well as two USB ports for your and your passengers’ convenience. Some products are free to the rider, but you still get a commision.  You can request a Cargo Box FREE of charge and there are no maintenance fees involved.

Cargo Store Purchase


The passenger makes a purchase through their phone by going to app.getcargo.today/riders and entering the cargo box id.

Passengers can make purchases by downloading the Cargo Store app or scanning the QR code on the Cargo box. Once a purchase is made, the driver receives a commission.

Commission can be tracked through Cargo Dash, where you can view lifetime earnings as well as the current pay period. You can see your sales and shipments in progress, plus track opportunities for bonuses. Payment is sent directly to your bank account every week.

Drivers can even earn commission on free samples provided to passengers, as many top global brands are using Cargo as a way to market-test new products with a Millennial customer base that is likely to use rideshare services. The Cargo app also utilizes Apple Pay and Venmo to complete transactions so that you can focus on driving, and all the passenger has to do is reach for a product after browsing on their phone.


Cargo Sign Up


What Is Cargo Store?

Cargo Store is a curated app that can be downloaded on rides so passengers can purchase anything. This includes stuff like movies, luggage, and travel accessories, with more brands being added to the store over time.

The benefit of shopping through Cargo opposed to buying retail or going on other online stores is that passengers will receive 10% back in Uber Cash which can be redeemed on Uber rides as well as future Cargo purchases. Shipping to the passenger’s home is also always free.

Where is the Cargo Box Available?

The Cargo Box is currently available in the following markets:

  • New York, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Washington DC and Baltimore, MD
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco CA
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • São Paulo, Brazil

More markets may be added in the future as Cargo continues to grow, and assess demand in different regions.

Can Lyft and Via Drivers Use Cargo, or Only if They Drive for Uber?

While Cargo has a select global partnership with Uber in order to offer new Uber drivers a way to increase their earnings from day 1, Lyft and Via drivers can also sign up with Cargo to make extra money.

Upon launching in summer 2017, 7,000 Uber drivers using the Cargo Box earned a collective $1 million selling products to over one million customers in the busiest markets. The Cargo Uber initiative is a result of Uber having significant equity in the company, but drivers with other rideshare companies like Uber, Lyft, and Juno, may earn commissions with a Cargo Box. Cargo also has a partnership with Grab in Asia.

Which Products Come In The Cargo Box?

A variety of well-known brands, including many upmarket ones, have partnered with Cargo to provide products so you can save your passengers a trip to a store or simply wow them.

Brands that Cargo has partnered with include Mars, Wrigley, Kellogg’s, Smartwater, and Red bull among many other brands to provide a top-notch experience for your customers and an opportunity for drivers to earn more money. Here are some products can you expect to see in your Cargo Box:

  • Advil aspirin
  • 5-hour Energy
  • Michel et Augustin cookies
  • Skittles
  • Extra spearmint gum
  • Xpress Gear iPhone chargers
  • Pringles
  • Altoids
  • Bear Naked Bites
  • Stain removal wipes
  • KIND bars
  • Happy Plugs

Available products vary by market. Your Cargo Box inventory can also be restocked based on which items are the most lucrative to the types of passengers you get, and the time of day that you are giving rides.

How Much Can Rideshare Drivers Earn with Cargo?

Drivers earn $1 per purchase plus a 25% commission of every item sold via the app during the ride, if the Cargo Box is installed. It’s also estimated that a Cargo transaction is completed every 5.39 seconds and reaches 9 million customers per month.

Like your base earnings, commission can vary depending on how many passengers you get every month plus other factors. Most drivers make about $100 per month using the Cargo Box, but some can get an extra $350 per month or even more if they drive in a busy area and get a lot of sales. Bonuses are also offered if you are able to sell a lot of products in a given week or month, which may be difficult to attain if you drive in an area where not many people use rideshare services but easy to accomplish if there’s a major event or busy tourist season.3

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Installing a Cargo Box

Getting a Cargo Box is the closest thing that rideshare drivers can get to totally passive income, and allow passengers an opportunity to skip a trip to the store. Installing the box and maintaining your inventory is a fairly seamless process.

While there’s nothing stopping you from buying products on your own and selling them, Cargo does inventory management for you with proprietary software that lets the company know if you’re running low on certain items. Depending on what time of day you tend to give rides, and where, your inventory needs will also vary. Since inventory management is automated through software in real time, you don’t need to wait very long for the right replacements.

Cargo can also handle expired items so you don’t need to worry about keeping track of expiration dates or accidentally selling expired snacks or malfunctioning cables to a passenger so it also removes liability risks.

Installing a Cargo Box is a fantastic conversation piece, especially if you drive in a tech hub where a lot of people are genuinely interested in how the system works. Since a significant number of products are also available for free, passengers are more likely to leave better tips and ratings since they couldn’t have gotten the experience with a typical taxi or bare-bones app ride. Drivers also get some free products for those long spells of sitting in traffic, as a thank you for helping to sell and test new products.

However, there are some drawbacks. Depending on the type of passenger that you’re likely to get, some may balk at the idea of paying for snacks when they’re used to rideshare drivers providing mints, candy, and water for free in order to get better ratings. The actual box shape may also not fit in the center console of your car depending on how it’s laid out, which could mean putting the Cargo Box where you can’t easily see it and being on the hook for unused inventory. Requesting and returning Cargo Boxes is free, but you may be liable for $75 if the box is lost or damaged, $25 for unreturned inventory if you stop using the box.

But even if you don’t sell many products, having additional USB ports is a major boon so your passengers can charge their devices and not need to maneuver with a car charger.

All in all, the Cargo Box is revolutionizing rideshare on both the driver and passenger sides by offering both convenience and easy passive income.

If you’d like to increase your Uber or Lyft earnings at no cost, get started today by signing up for Cargo using the button below!


Cargo Sign Up


Doordash buys Caviar

Lyft E-Bikes Are a Hot Topic in San Fran and DoorDash Buys Caviar

This past week, DoorDash gobbles up the competition, a new report shows that 25% of food delivery drivers eat their customer’s food, and Lyft sets San Francisco on fire … literally.

This Week in Mobility ― August 9, 2019

San Francisco to Open Applications for Scooter Pilot Program

The city of San Francisco is making quite a few headlines this week as it opens up applications for its electric scooter pilot program.

The city currently operates a highly successful electric scooter program using two operators: Scoot and Skip. However, both of those companies’ permits expire in October.

That’s why they’re opening applications now. Though Bird, Lyft, and Jump didn’t make the cut the first time around, the current round of applications is due on August 21.

With a highly successful pilot so far and complications with Lyft e-bikes catching on fire in the city (see below), it’s likely that Skip and Scoot will have their permits renewed. Since Bird acquired Scoot a couple of months back, it’s likely they won’t even apply.

San Francisco is a perfect place for scooter operators to test their products. Riders in the California city average about 3,400 trips per day. Scoot’s program has gone well, while Skip had a couple of scooter fires in Washington, DC, and pulled their rides off the street there.

Is it possible that Skip and Scoot will be booted out? Probably not. Though Jump, Lime, and Lyft make formidable competitors.

New Zealand Cantina Opens UberEats Ghost Restaurant

What started as a rumor was proved to be true as UberEats customers in New Zealand tried to connect the dots between Coco’s Cantina and Pronto Pasta.

Coco’s Cantina has been an Auckland staple for years. The restaurant prides itself on serving good food (no takeout), thumbing its nose at big business, and being a popular gathering place among area hipsters.

That’s why Coco’s fans were flabbergasted when they realized Pronto Pasta was actually an UberEats ghost restaurant owned by the same chefs. Ghost restaurants are popping up all over the world, as former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick opened CloudKitchen. These commercial kitchens prepare meals only for delivery, meaning less staff, less expensive real estate, and less overhead.

As competition in the food delivery market heats up, we may see the traditional sit-down restaurant go the way of yesterday’s leftovers. Until then, expect to see more ghost restaurants popping up in a city near you.

DoorDash Buys Competitor Caviar for $410M

Even though DoorDash is already one of the top three food delivery services, news broke last week that the controversial delivery service is buying their competitor Caviar for about $410 million.

The deal will combine cash and stock, but the exact details are still unclear. Now we know why DoorDash raised $400 million in cash back in March.

Caviar is currently owned by Square, who has been trying to sell Caviar for quite a long time. Square CEO and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey said they are excited about the acquisition.

While DoorDash is clearly on top of its game, the fact that no one wanted to buy it three years ago seems like there’s something amiss behind the scenes. Either way, DoorDash, and Caviar together will bring them even closer to staying on top.

Lyft Ebikes Catch Fire in San Francisco City Streets

While Lyft is trying to catch the eye of San Francisco to win a coveted spot in their electric scooter pilot, it’s unclear if they meant to catch a couple of bikes on fire in the process.

On July 27 and 31, two Lyft e-bikes erupted into flames, and the company immediately halted its bike-share program until an investigation is completed. Given the fact that the program only started two weeks prior, things aren’t looking good for Lyft.

In defense of Lyft, they are not the only company with similar problems. Scooter company Skip had to shut down a similar program in Washington, DC, when a couple of electric scooters also burst into flames. Both companies are looking at the batteries as the cause of the problem.

Is Your Food Delivery Driver Eating Your Dinner?

As if flaming bikes and scooters weren’t strange enough, our last piece comes from a survey released last week. It shows that 28% of food delivery drivers are munching on customer’s orders as they make their deliveries.

The US Foods survey asked 1,500 food delivery app users and 500 drivers a battery of questions. 21% of customers suspected drivers took food from their orders, while 28% of drivers admitted to stealing food. Another interesting fact? 85% of customers stated they want restaurants to use tamper-evident labels to ensure their food doesn’t disappear.

It’s not surprising that drivers snag food while on the run, but keep in mind that the survey results are somewhat skewed. They surveyed three times as many customers (1,500) than drivers (500.) Still, it may be nice to get your food delivery without any bite marks in it.


Postmates Serve Robot

Uber Lays Off 400 Workers in Restructure, Ford Acquires Quantum Signal, and Lyft Releases Valuable AV Data to the Public

This past week, Postmates announces an upgrade to their delivery bots, Lyft Level 5 releases valuable data to the public and announces a research competition, and virtual car sharing helps pedestrians and autonomous cars interact.

This Week In Mobility― August 2, 2019

Uber Lays Off 400 Workers

After sustaining losses of $1.01B from Q1 2019, Uber announced it is cutting its global marketing team by 400 workers.

Uber’s marketing team was comprised of 1,200 workers worldwide, and this latest round of layoffs reduces staff by one-third and represents the largest restructuring of the company to date.

According to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, “Many of our teams are too big, which creates overlapping work, makes for unclear decision owners, and can lead to mediocre results.”

Revenue from Uber’s ridesharing business grew 9% last year, much slower than in previous years.

As Uber struggles to appease investors, it’s likely the company will continue to experience layoffs. Two top executives, including the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, left in June, when Khosrowshahi decided to consolidate the marketing, communications, and policy teams into one department.

These recent layoffs combined with Uber’s campaigns to keep drivers classified as contractors will continue to hinder the company’s ability to turn a profit.

The Race for Robo-Deliveries Heats Up

Postmates’ delivery robot, Serve, just got an upgrade. The company announced it will be adding OS1 lidar sensors from Ouster to help Serve better interact with pedestrians and objects on LA sidewalks.

Postmates isn’t the only one investing in delivery robots. Amazon recently began testing a prototype of its delivery robot, Scout, using simulated environments to train it faster than having it out in the real world. FedEx is also testing its SameDayBot with various retailers.

By moving away from human deliveries, companies using robots don’t have to worry about the current pressure to classify contracted drivers as employees.

Who will be the first to get their robots on the road? Only time will tell. While Amazon’s plans to speed up robot training may make them first to deliver, simulated environments are no match for on-the-street testing.

As Postmates continues its march toward an IPO, innovations like these may help them turn a profit faster than Uber and Lyft ever could.

Ford Acquires Robotics Company Quantum Signal

Quantum Signal has been around since 1999, working on AI and advanced robotics applications for various industries including the military.

In an effort to speed up its foray into the autonomous vehicle industry, Ford announced it acquired Quantum Signal.

Though Quantum Signal’s work thus far has not been focused on self-driving cars, Ford states the company’s “extensive experience in real-time simulation and algorithm development” will help Ford develop AVs.

After the announcement of Ford’s acquisition to the Quantum Signal team, Quantum Signal CEO Mitchell Rohde stated, “All engineers want to do meaningful work that makes a difference, not sit on a shelf.”

The details of the deal are still unclear, but so far Ford has allowed the companies it has acquired over the past few years to operate independently. Experts think Quantum Signal will be no different.

It’s important to note that, as of now, no company has yet to create a fully-autonomous vehicle. Will Ford be the first to put a Level 5 AV on the road? By investing in small companies that include some of the brightest minds in tech, they are well on their way to solving the problem.

Lyft Opens Up Autonomous Driving Dataset to the Public

Lyft Level 5, the company’s R&D arm for self-driving vehicles, recently released a dataset “to level the playing field for all researchers interested in autonomous technology.”

According to Lyft’s EVP of Autonomous Technology Luc Vincent, the dataset includes 55,000+ human-labeled 3D annotated frames, data from 7 cameras and cars with up to 3 lidars, a drivable surface map, and a spatial semantic map that includes things like crosswalks and lane markings.

In addition to releasing the dataset, Lyft Level 5 is also sponsoring a research competition with a $25,000 in cash prizes and a chance for top researchers to interview with the company.

As companies like Lyft continue to struggle with pressures from lawmakers to classify drivers as employees, Level 5 autonomous vehicles may come to fruition a lot faster than expected.

Virtual Car Sharing Simulates Driver-Pedestrian Interactions in Vehicles

Researchers at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have come up with a unique way to solve one of the problems inherent with self-driving cars: a lack of driver-pedestrian interaction.

KAIST’s “Persona Cars” combines self-driving technology with telepresence robots that allow remote safety drivers to interact with people around the vehicle.

Here’s how it works:

The 360-degree camera on the roof of the autonomous vehicle feeds HD data to a remote driver via a 5G cellular connection. A bright projector inside the car allows pedestrians and humans on the street to see the face of the remote driver via a large monitor. Speakers allow them to hear what the remote driver is saying. The projector is bright enough that people can see the monitor in bright sunlight.

This innovation gives humans the ability to interact with cars as in the past. While the car itself is not fully autonomous (a remote driver is needed to interact with others), the applications of this new idea will help bridge the gap between what’s currently available until researchers unlock the key to Level 5 autonomy.