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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.

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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

 

Uber Gets Into The Credit Card Business

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Begining November 2, Uber will give users the option to get the card right in its app and will populate all of the information they have on file for their customers into the application. You also can apply for the card online.

After a few minutes, an applicant can get a verdict yes or no. The card is automatically available for use for Uber rides and UberEats purchases and a physical card will show up in the mail within a week or so.

 

 

A pickup point for Uber at LaGuardia airport in New York. Uber has faced criticism before over its treatment of drivers.

A pickup point for Uber at LaGuardia airport in New York. Uber has faced criticism before over its treatment of drivers. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

Uber to pay New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars after admitting to underpaying them for two-and-a-half years by taking a larger cut of drivers’ fares than it was entitled.

Under the terms of service the ride-hailing company put in place in November 2014, Uber was supposed to take its percentage of the commission – ranging between 20% and 25% – after deducting sales tax and a local fee to fund benefits for injured drivers. Instead, the company calculated its commission on the gross fare, resulting in more money for Uber and less for drivers.The average payout-per-driver will be about $900. With tens of thousands of drivers eligible for a refund, the company will be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars. An Uber spokesperson said that the company discovered the mistake in recent weeks, as it was preparing to roll out a new pricing scheme.

However, questions about Uber’s calculation of New York City commissions were raised nearly a year ago in a class-action lawsuit filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA). The suit, which was filed in federal court in New York in June 2016, alleged that Uber’s deduction of sales tax and the injured driver fee after the commission was calculated violated the terms of service and amounted to wage “theft”.

Uber also has admitted to underpaying US drivers. In March, the company paid refunds to UberBlack drivers in Philadelphia after charging them an extra 5% in commission for about 18 months. In January, Uber agreed to pay $20m to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that it had tricked drivers with false promises of higher earnings.

 

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Uber Now Working On Flying Taxis

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Helicopters, quad copters, or space-age airplanes, all the craft will have to be capable of vertical takeoff and landing, called VTOL, in order to fit into mini-airports, known as vertiports, spread around cities. And they will have to be quiet enough to take off and land near homes and offices without driving people crazy. Local, state, and federal agencies all have to get on board and convince the public that the technology is safe and not too intrusive.  Dubai has already green-lit a program by Chinese drone maker EHang (unconnected to Uber) that will start sky taxi flights in July.

The likely plan in all cities is to locate vertiports on top of buildings.

Uber’s taxis will start service with fully certified commercial pilots, who may be the company’s first full-time drivers.

Uber Announces Plan To Curb Bad Behavior By Passengers

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Uber has announced updates to its app intended to curb bad behavior by passengers.Key among the changes is allowing passengers to see the ratings they receive from drivers — knowledge the company hopes will make customers more cognizant of the fact their behavior is being graded during every trip.

SAFR The Female Friendly UBER Alternative

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Female-friendly alternative to Uber, Safr, launched last month in Boston.  With all the disturbing news concerning Uber and Lyft drivers the timing is just about right for Safr. A new report revealed that thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in Massachusetts have failed the state’s new background checks,

Safr riders can choose which gender they feel most comfortable riding with via the app—drivers have the same gender preference option—and can also take advantage of a number of built-in safety features, including a feature that can call 911, send a text to a pre-assigned contact, or dial Safr’s 24-hour command center. A color-matching system, which sends riders and drivers a color-coded message during pickups, also helps ensure passengers get into the correct vehicle.

Safr advertisement

Safr , which are currently all women, go through a more extensive recruitment, vetting, and training process than competitors.

Safr isn’t the first such startup to gear their service toward women. In 2014, New York-based SheTaxis, also known as SheRiders, tried to launch, but faced gender discrimination issues and has since folded. See Jane Go, based in Orange County, California, and conceived of by a father-daughter team worried about rider safety, began operating last September.

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