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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

New York City MTA

The MTA has been testing ultra-wideband radio as

The MTA has been testing ultra-wideband radio as a means of better tracking trains, while also providing cell service to riders inside subway tunnels. (Credit: Craig Ruttle)

 

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 / A young passenger uses JetBlue’s facial-recognition system at Logan Airport in Boston on June 15, 2017.

Georgetown University researchers have released yet another report warning of the potential dangers and ineffectiveness of the beginnings of routine facial recognition scanning by certain airlines at several airports nationwide.The new report, which was released Thursday, comes on the heels of a related 2016 report showing that half of Americans’ faces are already in a facial recognition database. The report concludes.

Uber Accused Of Espionage, By Former Employee

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The judge in the $1.86 billion legal battle between ride-hailing giant Uber and Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo case, released a damning letter based on the account of a former Uber employee. The letter alleges that a special division within Uber was responsible for acts of corporate espionage, the theft of trade secrets, the bribery of foreign officials and various means of unlawful surveillance.

The company solicited undercover agents to collect intelligence against the taxi groups and local political figures. The agents took rides in local taxis, loitered around locations where taxi drivers congregated, and leveraged a local network of contacts with connections to police and regulatory authorities..

The “Jacobs letter” was written by the attorney for Richard Jacobs, who previously worked as Uber’s manager of global intelligence before being fired in April. The highly detailed account brings about accusations of systematic illegal activity inside Uber’s Strategic Services Group (SSG) which allegedly sought to surface other companies’ trade secrets through eavesdropping and data collection. The letter alleges that some of the information gathered was relayed to then-CEO Travis Kalanick.

The trial has been delayed until February 2018 to give the Waymo legal team more time to investigate claims Jacob’s claims.

MTA’s New Cardless Fare System

MetroCard, NYC subway, MTA

According to amNY, advocates and experts say the new “contactless” technology could make the system more equitable through a policy called fare capping: riders pay per ride until the daily or weekly capping rates are reached, with every ride being free after that.

The new system, set to replace the plastic card by 2023, will also allow customers to create personalized transit accounts online to check ride history, add value and report lost or stolen cards.

The current payment system gives benefits to riders willing to spend $121 on the spot for an unlimited monthly pass by saving them on cost-per-ride fares. For New Yorkers who cannot afford to spend over $100 on a single purchase, there are no savings when buying the weekly or daily pass. Advocates say the contactless system could make commuting more equitable.

MTA board member David Jones told amNY, “… With the [new] technology, if you in fact swipe through enough times in a month you could automatically be given the 30-day benefit. The technology is so sophisticated that it can tally how many times you are using the system.

Fare capping, a policy Cubic has implemented for London’s transit fare system, would no longer force riders to choose between a daily or weekly pass; straphangers pay per ride until the daily or weekly capping rates are reached and pay nothing after that.

While a fare capping policy has been backed by transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, the MTA Board has not decided whether it will implement it as part of the new system.

NASA Engineer Building Flying Cars For Uber

Uber brings in NASA engineer to build flying cars

Uber recently announced that NASA engineer Mark Moore will be spearheading its plans for an on-demand aviation service, known as Uber Elevate. Credit: Ube

To expand their ride-sharing services to the skies, Uber recently hired NASA aerospace engineer Mark D. Moore to spearhead Uber Elevate. For 30 years, Moore has worked for NASA, researching advanced aircraft and technologies and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) applications. 

As skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground. A network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically (called VTOL aircraft for Vertical Take-off and Landing, and pronounced vee-tol), will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities.

Such a plan would not only rely on VTOL network to bypass the usual infrastructure of roads, railways, bridges and tunnels, but would also call for the repurposing of parts of the urban landscape. Uber’s plan calls for transforming the tops of parking garages, existing helipads, and unused land surrounding highway interchanges to create a network of “vertiports” and “versistops”, complete with charging stations for their vehicles.
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Uber flying taxi rendering

 

Bargain-flight apps, Affected By Google’s Change

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The change probably has something to do with Google Flights and Google Trips. Google used ITA’s tool to create Google Flights, which aggregates airline prices directly inside its powerful search engine. The product competes with companies like Priceline Group Inc.’s Kayak.com and Chinese travel giant Ctrip.com International Ltd.’s Skyscanner.

New Technology For Booking Travel

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Instead of entering a hotel search and receiving a page with hundreds of options, new data-driven travel agents—using humans, AI or both—are tailoring options based on a traveler’s personal preferences. These new agents use chatbots or messaging to communicate with travel bookers. Elaine Glusac, writing at The New York Times, offers these examples of data-driven travel planners.

Pana caters to frequent travelers. For a monthly fee, Pana is available 24 hours. It uses member profiles and past trips to funnel travel requests to human agents.

Mezi uses chatbots to handle travel booking. If a complicated issue arises then humans get involved; afterward they train the bots to handle it in the future. The more you book with Mezi, the more it learns about your preferences.

Savanti Travel helps frequent travelers cut costs while gaining status with travel companies. It doesn’t operate on commission to avoid the urge to find more expensive bookings.

Hello Hipmunk is a travel-planning messaging system. It runs through Facebook Messenger, Skype or Slack, and lets you topic hop as if you were talking to a human. It can offer tips such as on the cheapest times to travel.

Flightfox specializes in complicated itineraries. The service books flights only; for a fee, agents find the best prices and send you links so you can do the booking yourself. It also uses points systems to find the best deals.

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