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.


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.


Aptiv & Lyft Partner Up During NFB Conference, Florida Courts AV Industry Leaders

This past week, Go-Jek gains more big-name investors, CommonSense Robotics takes a gamble on grocery delivery, and the debate rages on regarding gig worker rights in California.

This Week In Mobility― July 19, 2019

CommonSense Robotics Builds “the World’s First Underground Automated Warehouse”

Logistics startup CommonSense Robotics wants to help small grocers get into the grocery delivery game. That’s why the Google-backed startup is building a small warehouse inside a Tel Aviv parking garage.

CommonSense plans on utilizing small spaces such as vacant parking lots and abandoned storefronts to create urban grocery delivery hubs. Grocers can expand operations without investing in additional staff or costly real estate in urban areas.

Now that grocery customers are starting to use delivery services, this will give smaller companies the same advantage as retailers like Target and Walmart. Innovation like gives small urban grocers the ability to keep up with changing customer preferences.

But can small grocers afford it? According to the latest stats by, grocery stores average less than a 5% net profit.

Shopping as we know it is changing. Any small grocery store that wants to remain in business should invest in this type of service. Target and Walmart are growing because of innovations like these.


Florida Wants to Become a New Hub for Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Testing

The Automated Vehicle Symposium ended yesterday in Orlando, giving area leaders the opportunity to show off progress on the SuntraxFL driverless car testing facility.

SuntraxFL is situated in Central Florida off the I-4 corridor and is expected to be completed next year.

Florida made headlines last month when Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to allow autonomous vehicles to operate in the state without a human backup driver. Prior Florida legislation required safety drivers to be present in the vehicle at all times.

As of July 1, 100% driverless cars are free to operate in Florida as long as the vehicle meets safety and insurance requirements outlined by the new bill.

It’s too early to know for sure who’s interested in getting in on the ground floor of this new testing facility or when it will be ready.

Tensions Rise as California Heard Arguments to Treat Uber, Lyft Drivers as Employees

The California legislature is still debating a bill to treat gig workers (like Uber and Lyft drivers) as employees instead of independent contractors.

Neither Uber nor Lyft hires drivers as part-time employees. This means drivers are ineligible for perks like overtime pay and health benefits.

A recent LA Times article stated both Uber and Lyft drivers were offered $25-100 to lobby against the proposed California legislation at a state senate hearing earlier this month. The pay was offered in the form of a driver credit from the I’m Independent Coalition. The group is funded by several organizations, including on-demand companies that would be negatively affected by the passing of California’s Assembly Bill 5.

As of Thursday, the bill has not been approved by the California State Senate.

While California has seemed to side with gig workers since the infamous Dynamex lawsuit decision last year, companies who would be negatively affected have done a good job of rallying support for their side of the argument as well. The bill has made it through the first hurdle by passing the California Assembly, now it’s up to the Senate and Governor to move it forward.

Aptiv Unveils Tactile Maps and More During NFB Conference

Vision-impaired Lyft riders got a chance to experience tactile maps and more in Las Vegas last week during the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) Annual Conference.

Driverless car manufacturer Aptiv teamed up with Lyft and the NFB to give rides to conference-goers. These AV rides included descriptions of driverless car technology in braille, as well as tactile maps of the area.

By demonstrating driverless car technology to customers who rely on others to drive them around, Aptiv and Lyft are preparing riders for the future of mobility.

Look Out, Didi Chuxing! Here Comes Go-Jek

Go-Jek’s current phase of its Series F round has secured investments from three divisions of Mitsubishi and Visa.

Mitsubishi has been investing heavily in the Indonesian-based company this year. The first phase of Go-Jek’s Series F closed on February 1 after raising $1 billion from Mitsubishi, Google, and Tencent Partners.

Though the investment amounts have yet to be disclosed, Go-Jek is already a dominant player in Asia. The company provides similar services to Didi Chuxing including food delivery, mobile payments, local delivery and more.

Will Go-Jek give Didi Chuxing a run for its money? With Go-Jek’s focus on expanding operations internationally and recent cash injections, they may overtake them in the near future.

used car buying tips

How to Make Sure a Used Car is Worth Buying

You must be on your guard if you’re thinking of buying a used car. People often sell second-hand vehicles because they aren’t in good working order, and you don’t want to waste your money on a duff automobile. Here’s how to ensure you don’t make a mistake.

Check under the hood

Serious trouble may dwell under the hood, so check there first. You might spot a little grime and oil, but too much dirt can indicate the car hasn’t been well-maintained. Damp and a greasy residue, for instance, may be signs of a coolant, engine, or transmission leakage.

Note whether anything’s broken or out of place. Belts and hoses shouldn’t be cracked and battery terminals should not show signs of corrosion or leakage. If the battery is properly charged, it should show 12.45 volts or more when checked with a digital multimeter.

Look at the air filter too and make sure it’s clean and check the color of the oil on the dipstick. It shouldn’t be milky or black.


Most cars need their belts and hoses replaced after about 80,000 miles, so consider them when viewing the mileage. When you look at the odometer, ensure the numbers are in line. If they aren’t, someone might have changed them.

Also, does the condition of the car match the mileage shown? A well-worn interior, yet low mileage could signal foul play. You should expect the interior to look fairly new if the miles traveled are accurate.

General checks

Other functions to check include signal lights, headlights, and brake lights. At the same time, try the wipers, horn, and washers to see that they work properly.

Inspect the car fluids to check they are full and haven’t leaked, and inspect the tires for wear. If they don’t have good tread, they’ll need replacing and you must take this into account when deciding whether the price of the vehicle is fair.

Vehicle body

Bubbling beneath the paintwork on the car exterior and signs of rust are bad news. Surface blisters aren’t terrible, but corrosion within the bumpers, panels, doors and wheel arches is a cause for concern.

Note paintwork discoloration and ripples as you examine the car. They could indicate damage that’s been covered. Look at the sunroof, window seals, and beneath carpets for signs of leaks too.

Take a test drive

If you’re insured to drive the vehicle, take a multifaceted route that includes busy roads and quiet lanes so you can experience driving in varied conditions.

Note odd noises. Rattles and bangs when you switch on the ignition are questionable. Also, is the steering smooth? Is the engine’s temperature normal and do the breaks function properly?

Before you make an offer

Check the vehicle registration documents to ensure they are in order. The service receipt data, for example, should match the mileage you noted earlier.

If the paperwork is accurate, you enjoy driving the car, and it’s worth more than the cost of fixing up your current vehicle, if you have one, make an offer corresponding with the used car’s going rate.

Buying a used car isn’t easy unless you recognize what to look for and the right questions to ask. Note the tips mentioned and you’ll know whether a vehicle’s worth buying or it’s time to move on and look elsewhere.


10 Autonomous Vehicle Startups That Are Making Waves

Not every startup has the resources and know-how to enter the autonomous vehicle sector. With complex technology and intensive research requirements, self-driving platforms require substantial investment and even more dedication. While large companies like Google’s Waymo, Toyota, and GM Drive work on the latest driverless technology, these plucky startups are giving them a run for their money by developing cutting-edge software and up-to-date self-driving systems.

1. Zoox

While many engineers were fitting sedans and crossover SUVs with autonomous systems, Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson of the Stanford Center for Automotive Research decided to build their own unique autonomous vehicle. Quietly launching Zoox in 2014, the two men set about developing a streamlined custom self-driving car. The company’s ambitious designs won it $790 million in backing from Lux Capital and Atlassian founder Mike Cannon Brookes.

2. Bossa Nova Robotics

Other startups concentrate on road-ready vehicles, but Bossa Nova decided to use autonomous car tech to make warehouse robots more efficient and effective. Bossa Nova is the brainchild of David Palmer, a former executive for FedEx, and Sarjoun Skaff, a robotics engineer from Carnegie Mellon University. The two men have developed a system that uses computer vision and facial recognition software to help guide helper robots around big box stores like Walmart. The firm recently completed a $29 million funding round led by Cota Capital.

3. Arbe Robotics

This Israeli startup combines the machine learning expertise of CTO Noam Arkind, the business acumen of CEO Kobi Marenko and the programming skills of COO Oz Fixman. Arbe is laser-focused on developing high definition 4D radar, a technology that has origins in military drones and helps self-driving cars navigate streets safely without a human operator. Arbe has been popular with investors since it launched. It has raised over $20 million, most recently completing a $10 million funding round led by Fausto Boni’s 360 Capital Partners.

4. Nuro

In 2016, Google engineers Jiajin Zhu and Dave Ferguson decided to launch their own autonomous vehicle startup. The company designed a tiny autonomous delivery van to transport groceries, dry cleaning and packages. Nuro recently partnered with Kroger to fulfill same-day grocery delivery and is expected to roll out an entire battery-powered delivery fleet by the end of the year. Investors have given their stamp of approval to the industrious little vans by pumping more than $90 million into Nuro’s coffers.


In 2016, the two-man team team behind left lucrative careers in Baidu’s Autonomous Driving Unit to launch their own self-driving startup. The team quickly rolled out their own auotnomous vehicle system, testing their cars in California and China. After successfully debuting a fleet of autonomous cars in early 2018, the company attracted substantial investment from Chinese VC firms like Legend Capital and Morningside Venture Capital. In 2018 alone, has received over $200 million in investments.

Pony AI test vehicle


6. DeepMap

Mark Wheeler and James Wu had years of experience at Google Maps when they decided to quit in 2016 and start their own mapping startup. Knowing autonomous vehicles would need accurate, up-to-date maps, the two developed high-definition mapping software accurate to the centimeter. Backed by big names like Accel, DeepMap has raised $92 million. The company recently inked a deal with Chinese car manufacturer SAIC Motor to include its technology in SAIC’s new autonomous vehicles.

7. Aurora Labs

After years of working on automation for homes, pets and banking, Zohar Fox decided to turn his attention to self-driving cars. Together with VC maven Ori Lederman, Fox started Aurora Labs in 2016. The company developed its own machine learning tool to help autonomous vehicle systems predict, detect and manage faults without outside input from humans. The Israeli company, which recently completed a $8.4 million Series A funding round, plans to to branch out into the US in the coming year.

8. Voyage

In 2017, University of Nevada researcher MacCallister Higgins saw an opportunity in the startup market for a new autonomous vehicle company that caters to the elderly and disabled. The company’s self-driving vans and sedans were deployed in retirement communities in California and Florida in early 2018. The company also made headlines when it lured tech executives Justin Erlich and Drew Grey away from Uber. Voyage has the backing of Jaguar Land Rover, which raised $15 million for the company in early 2018.

9. Brain Corporation

Founded in 2009 by a pair of neuroscientists, Brain Corporation has developed BrainOS, an autonomous platform that powers self-driving cleaning robots and floor scrubbers. The company’s robots use LIDAR to safely navigate around airports, hotels and big box stores. The company has attracted a bevy of investors, including SoftBank and Qualcomm Ventures, the VC arm of American telecommunications conglomerate Qualcomm.

10. Nauto

The brainchild of Princeton neuroscientist Frederick Soo and Stanford professor Stefan Heck, Nauto was founded in Palo Alto in 2015. The startup has developed tech that helps to reduce collisions caused by distracted driving. The system is designed for commercial drivers and features an advanced collision warning system and in-car collision avoidance training. Nauto has raised more than $170 million from big investors like Softbank and Greylock Partners.

As autonomous vehicles advance by leaps and bounds, these startups are getting the jump on emerging technologies. By relying on well-monied backers and their own technical expertise, these companies are able to use financial capital to fund complex research and transform the modern transportation sector forever.


Uber Ceo Khosrowshahi

Uber Files for IPO, The Shift To Scooters, Highest Rideshare Tax Proposed

This Week in Mobility – April 19, 2019

This week, Uber keeps IPO details confidential as it talks up investors, Phantom Auto attempts to expand into logistics with its latest funding round, and proposed rideshare tax debates heat up in Georgia.

Uber Woos Investors With Road Show for May IPO

After months of anticipation, the company that started the ridesharing industry began touring the country to talk up investors. Uber privately filed with the SEC for its IPO back in December, and little information is available about what the offering price will be.

This is the second ridesharing company to go public this year, and one of a handful of tech unicorns that are focusing on growth above profits. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stands to pocket a $100 million bonus if Uber’s valuation stays at $120 billion or higher for 90 days past the IPO.

Experts speculate that the Uber IPO could make Lyft stock more attractive since Lyft is a smaller company that had higher growth, and smaller losses. But growth doesn’t always translate to profits, and after the first day of trading, Lyft stock dropped significantly.

Uber lost over a billion dollars last year. While the platform is growing and the company is constantly seeking new markets and creating new services, growth for growth’s sake isn’t a sustainable long-term business solution.

Phantom Auto Expanding Remote Driving Operations into Logistics

While autonomous vehicles are making headlines with new AI that can drop a car virtually anywhere, Phantom Auto has been quietly working on remote control tech. The company recently raised $13.5 million in its latest financing round, for a total of $19 million since opening in 2017.

Phantom creates software that allows humans to remotely pilot vehicles in difficult traffic situations, bad weather, and other hazardous conditions. Using only a cellular connection, the company is now expanding into the logistics sector, driving everything from forklifts to semi trucks.

Though autonomous vehicles look promising, many companies have invested billions of dollars and still require human intervention on premises. Remote control technology flips this idea on its head, giving the software the ability to take over where humans often fail. It will be interesting to see what this does in the upcoming months.



Georgia Proposes The Country’s Highest Rideshare Tax in the US to Date

A proposal to amend HB 276 in Georgia legislature could tax riders up to 8.9% every time they use Lyft or Uber to catch a ride.

The potential law changes come after Georgia failed to collect sales tax from Uber back in December 2018. The Georgia Department of Revenue sent a $22 million tax bill to Uber for three years of uncollected sales taxes. Uber disputed the bill, stating there is no state tax on rideshare rides.

As ridesharing has become the norm around the United States, many government agencies are responding by creating or changing legislation in order to get a cut of the profits. Unfortunately, these taxes hurt drivers, riders, and the local economy.

While the final details of the bill haven’t been approved and Uber is still debating its tax liability, it may be safe to assume that rideshare taxes will become standard for most passengers in the US

From Bikes to Scooters: Are Mobility Companies Finding Their Sweet Spot?

Bike share is losing ground in popularity. Last year more people took rides on scooters, according to new research.

The dockless bike trend seems to be fading as it did in China. When the sudden surge in popularity began back in 2017, US and Chinese companies began popping up all over. Critics warned that the shine of dockless biking would wear off. When China pulled out of the US market last year, it essentially sealed the fate of profitable dockless biking services.

Though governments seem to be fully on-board with the program like Divvy in Chicago, are these programs destined to disappear? If so, it would be a blow to Lyft, who purchased Motivate, the largest U.S. bikeshare provider, last year.

While the answer seems to be yes, what works in the for-profit industry sometimes lingers past its prime in the nonprofit sectors. Mobility companies, including Lyft, have found a new, possibly profitable, venture in electric scooters.

The data seems to back this up, as The National Association of City Transportation Officials reported that scooter trips were higher than station-based bike share in the United States for the first time in 2018. Now, companies like Lime, Jump, and Lyft Scooters just need to work on scooter durability.

Native’s Recent Funding Proves On Demand Market Research to Be Valuable Business

Market research is the latest innovation in the on demand economy. Native, with operations led by former Uber staff, uses its platform to get market research in the trenches from locals. This research is vital to brands that rely on emerging markets and need up-to-the-minute pricing information in order to stay competitive. A recent $2.5 million funding round to manage its growth shows that its business model is working.

While Native is currently an outlier, this could be the start of the on demand economy becoming a mainstay of the B2B market.


GM Chevy Bolt

Lyft Goes Divvy, Doordash Takes The Lead, And Self Driving Car Heads To Museum

This Week in On Demand― March 14, 2019

From Lyft bikes to Doordash, the new champ of food delivery, here’s the latest happenings from the gig economy this week.

Lyft To Invest $50 Million in Chicago Bike Sharing Program

A proposed contract from Chicago bike-sharing program Divvy will bring $50 million in investment from Lyft to the city over nine years.

Lyft took over the city’s bike-sharing program last year after purchasing Motivate International, a company that managed government sharing programs in cities like Boston, Chicago, and New York.

The proposal would add 175 stations and 10,500 bikes, bringing the total to 800 stations and 16,500 bikes. It also would require Lyft to pay the city $6 million annually, with a four percent increase each year. The city would also share in $1.5 million generated from advertisements or sponsorships. This money is in addition to the $50 million investment. All city money would go back into transportation.

Tighter Regulations on Ride Sharing in New York Help Smaller Operators

New regulations in New York City have created losses for major players like Uber and Lyft, but smaller operators are starting to see an increase in business.

A rise in the minimum wage for app-based drivers caused both Uber and Lyft to increase prices. In addition, the city added a surcharge for $2.75 for every ride-hailing trip below 96th street in Manhattan.

According to Lyft, these fare hikes and surcharges have reduced the number of ride requests in the area. However, ridepool service Via, the smallest app-based service in the area, have reported an increase in business.

The Manhattan-based company uses vans to shuttle passengers in a ride-pooling service. Via was able to keep fares the same, and riders only have to pay a surcharge of $0.75.

Autonomous Vehicle Heads to Henry Ford Museum

Even though autonomous cars are not yet mainstream, one is headed to the Henry Ford Museum. GM announced its first autonomous car is making its way to the museum to be displayed in the very front, alongside a 1959 Cadillac.

The preproduction Chevy Bolt EV rolled off a Michigan assembly line in March 2016. It racked up over 12,000 miles of autonomous driving in San Francisco and other cities.

DoorDash Grabs Number One Spot in Food Delivery Market

Fortune magazine announced Monday that DoorDash nosed ahead of GrubHub to take the number one position in the on-demand food delivery market.

In March 2018, DoorDash was barely in the running for the top three services, taking about 15% market share, while GrubHub had almost 40% and Uber Eats was squarely in the middle of the two.

Over the last year, GrubHub’s market share steadily decreased, DoorDash continued to improve, and Uber Eats stayed relatively stable.

Current numbers are almost neck and neck, with DoorDash owning 27.6% of the market, GrubHub at 26.7%, and Uber Eats at 25.2%.

It’s unclear what caused the decline at GrubHub, but with so many new players entering the market, customers have more choices than in the past.

Dallas Transit Hires Uber to Give Free & Discount Rides

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is offering free and discounted rides to some customers via Uber’s ride-pool service UberPool.

The program provides options for those who live in areas with limited transportation options. Rides are subsidized by DART and serve six zones in the area including Legacy West in Plano and the Inland Port in South Dallas.

That’s the news for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s roundup to see the latest innovations in the on-demand industry.

Image Credit: Steve Fecht for General Motors