Posts Tagged: Uber

Uber starts showing more US drivers how much they will earn on potential trips

Uber has launched a couple of features designed to improve the experience of and increase transparency for drivers. A few months ago, the ride-hailing giant started piloting a feature called “Upfront Fares” in a handful of cities. Now it’s expanding its availability and rolling it out to most of the US over the coming months. When they get access to the features, drivers will see how much they’ll earn and where they’re going for a trip on the request screen before they accept the booking. 

According to the Help page explaining how Upfront Fares work, Uber calculates the amount it shows using several factors, “including base fares, estimated trip length and duration, pickup distance and surge pricing.” Uber will also show drivers the cross streets closest to the pick up and drop-off points to help them make a decision. In addition, Uber will also expand the availability of “Trip Radar,” a feature that shows drivers a list of possible trips nearby, along with Upfront Fares. They’ll still get individual trip requests, but now they can pick another booking that might suit them better. 

Uber is positioning these new features as a way to support its drivers, but as Axios notes, the impact they may have on customers remains unclear. They could end up being misused and lead to the increase of rider and trip discrimination if drivers look at them as tools to avoid specific neighborhoods. That said, the features could also prevent canceled trips, because they allow drivers to make a conscious decision when accepting trips.

The company has also launched a new Uber Pro debit card that will enable drivers to earn cashbacks for getting gas at select stations. Back in March, Uber added a fuel surcharge to rides and deliveries, as well, to help drivers keep up with skyrocketing gas prices.

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Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick reportedly saw violence against drivers as a tool for growth

A new trove of leaked documents has shed an unfavorable light on the early days of Uber. Dubbed the Uber Files, the leak consists of approximately 124,000 internal company documents, including more than 83,000 emails and text messages exchanged between former CEO Travis Kalanick and other executives, that date to a period between 2013 and 2017. The latter marks the year Kalanick stepped down as CEO of Uber amid mounting controversy.

Working with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The Guardian shared the trove with 180 journalists at 40 outlets across 29 countries. The documents show a company willing to do things many of its own executives thought were “fucking illegal.” 

In 2016, for instance, Kalanick reportedly ordered French employees to encourage local Uber drivers to counter-protest the taxi strikes that were underway in Paris at the time. When one executive warned Kalanick that “extreme right thugs” were part of the protest, the former CEO pushed back. “I think it’s worth it,” he said. “Violence guarantee[s] success. And these guys must be resisted, no?”

One former senior executive told The Guardian that Kalanick’s response was consistent with a strategy of “weaponizing” drivers and a playbook the company returned to in other countries.

Another selection of documents details the lengths the company went to escape regulatory scrutiny. In at least 12 instances, Uber ordered staff at local offices in six countries, including France, the Netherlands and India, to employ the “kill switch,” an internal tool the company developed to protect its data.

“Please hit the kill switch ASAP,” Kalanick wrote in one email shared by The Washington Post. "Access must be shut down in AMS,” he added, referring to the company’s Amsterdam office. In two cases involving Uber’s Montreal office, authorities entered the building only to see all the computers and tablets before them resetting at the same time. The company told The Post “such software should never have been used to thwart legitimate regulatory actions,” and that it stopped using the system in 2017.

“We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly not in line with our present values,” said Jill Hazelbaker, Uber’s senior vice president of marketing and public affairs, in a statement the company issued after The Guardian published its findings on the Uber Files. “Instead, we ask the public to judge us by what we’ve done over the last five years and what we will do in the years to come.”

In a statement published by the ICIJ, Travis Kalanick’s spokesperson said any suggestion the former executive “directed, engaged in, or was involved” in “illegal or improper conduct" is “completely false."

"The reality was that Uber's expansion initiatives were led by over a hundred leaders in dozens of countries around the world and at all times under the direct oversight and with the full approval of Uber's robust legal, policy, and compliance groups," they added.

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Uber Eats is launching two autonomous delivery pilots today in Los Angeles

Uber Eats is launching not just one but two autonomous delivery pilots today in Los Angeles, TechCrunch has reported. The first is via an autonomous vehicle partnership with Motional, originally announced in December, and the second is with sidewalk delivery firm Serve Robotics, a company that spun out of Uber itself.

The trials will be limited, with deliveries from just a few merchants including the Kreation juicery and organic cafe. Serve will do short delivery routes in West Hollywood, while Motional will take care of longer deliveries in Santa Monica. "We'll be able to learn from both of those pilots what customers actually want, what merchants actually want and what makes sense for delivery," an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Uber will apparently charge for the deliveries from Serve. However, autonomous vehicle deliveries in California require a permit that Motional reportedly doesn't possess, so it appears that customers won't be charged for deliveries from their vehicles, for now. In addition, human operators will take control when near the drop-off locations "to ensure a convenient and seamless experience for customers," a spokesperson said. 

Serve's robots, meanwhile, will mostly be able to operate autonomously, but remote operators will take control in certain cases, as when crossing a street. 

Customers within specific test zones will have an option to have their food delivered by an autonomous vehicle and can track it as with a regular delivery. When the food arrives, they'll be able to unlock the vehicle with a passcode to obtain their meals, either from a Serve cooler or the backseat of a Motional car. "The hope is that [the trials] are successful and that we learn over the coming months and then figure out how to scale," Uber's spokesperson said. 

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California votes to strip employee protections from Uber and Lyft drivers

Uber and other ride-hailing and delivery companies in California have prevailed in a $ 220 million dollar gambit to keep workers as independent contractors. Proposition 22, a side ballot to overturn a California law that made drivers full employees, p…
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California Uber drivers sue company over Prop 22 app notifications

It’s no secret Uber has been aggressively supporting Proposition 22, a California ballot initiative that would allow the company to skirt a state law requiring them to classify drivers as employees. Now, a group of the app’s drivers say the company’s…
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Uber CEO says his company can’t hire all of its drivers in California

Whatever the outcome of its ongoing legal spat with the state of California, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi doesn’t believe his company can employ all the people who drive for the platform in California, at least not without a fundamental rethinking of i…
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Uber rival Bolt hails a ride on Huawei’s AppGallery storefront

Over the past few months, we’ve seen Huawei pour resources into developing the AppGallery so that it can better fill in for the absence of Google’s Play Store. Fast on the heels of Deezer, Premier League app, and Here WeGo, the Bolt ride-sharing service has brought its app to Huawei’s storefront, giving users the ability […]

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Uber is reportedly trying to buy Postmates

Uber might have missed its chance to buy Grubhub, but it might not go away empty-handed. New York Times sources claim Uber has made an offer to buy Postmates. The talks are still in progress and aren’t guaranteed to lead to a union, but negotiations…
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Uber will let you hire a driver by the hour in select cities

Uber is launching a new trip category that will let users make multiple stops in a single ride. With the new Hourly option, users will request a trip like they would any other on-demand ride, but they’ll be able to set multiple stops. Hourly trips wi…
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Uber may have to pay Waymo or redesign its self-driving software

In 2017, Waymo accused Uber of stealing its autonomous driving trade secrets. You may have thought the Uber-Waymo legal battle was over when, in 2018, the companies reached a settlement and Uber agreed to pay around $ 245 million. But as part of the s…
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Uber and LinkedIn attackers plead guilty to hacking and extortion

The hackers who infiltrated Uber's and LinkedIn-owned Lynda.com's Amazon web servers have pleaded guilty in California federal court to charges of computer hacking and extortion conspiracy. Canadian national Vasile Mereacre and Florida resident Brand…
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Starbucks plans nationwide delivery in the US with Uber Eats

More Americans will be able to take advantage of on-demand Frappuccinos. Starbucks announced today that it's expanding its partnership with Uber Eats, aiming for nationwide delivery by early 2020. Currently, only 11 cities offer the service; Boston,…
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Uber offers settlement to some drivers over worker status

Uber drivers may in the US are out of luck pursuing class action lawsuits that would force the company to treat them as employees. They might, however, get something for their trouble — with some caveats. TechCrunch has learned that Uber has offer…
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Uber fined £385,000 in the UK for 2016 cyber-attack

Uber has been fined £385,000 ($ 491,000) by the UK's privacy watchdog for "failing to protect" the personal info of around 2.7 million UK users during a cyber attack in 2016. The figure isn't far off from the maximum penalty of £500,000 ($ …
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When your Uber driver is a spy

Like other migrating beasts, hackers travel huge distances for feeding, breeding, and breaking things every summer — at Defcon in Las Vegas. The way they move about the city is driven primarily by the availability of free booze at corporate parties…
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Uber CEO discusses self-driving cars and food delivery by drone

On the second day Uber Elevate Summit 2018, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took the stage for an interview covering everything from a recent fatal crash involving one of its self-driving cars, to his relationship with Google and Waymo, to drone deliveries.
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Uber reportedly reduced the number of sensors on its autonomous cars

Uber is facing some intense scrutiny after one of its self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona ten days ago. The company (along with it's partner, NVIDIA) has stopped testing its autonomous vehicle in cities across the US, and the…
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Uber Eats offers insurance for its European couriers

Uber Eats only just turned two years old, but like other "gig economy" businesses, it's facing scrutiny over how it classifies workers. In Europe, the company is partnering with Axa to offer couriers an insurance package that covers accidents, hospit…
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Uber adds new multiple stop feature

Uber announced a new feature they are adding to their service that will allow for multiple stops to be added to a ride. With this update, users can do things like stop to pick up friends or family from different locations who are all on their way to the same final destination. In the past […]

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Uber is ready to cut a deal to get its London license back

Uber may have lost its London taxi license with no small amount of drama, but it's already willing to make concessions. The ridesharing outfit's city manager Tom Elvidge tells the Sunday Times that he would "like to know what [Uber] can do" to "get t…
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Uber picks Expedia chief as its new CEO

Uber's lengthy, sometimes tumultuous search for a new CEO is over. Sources talking to both the New York Times and Recode have learned that the ridesharing company has picked Expedia chief Dara Khosrowshahi as its new leader. The company will only s…
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Uber is reportedly closing down its car-leasing program in the US

Uber's terrible, awful, no-good 2017 isn't over yet. Two years after it started leasing cars to drivers, the ride-hailing company has realized that it should've looked at the economics of such a little better. "The average loss per vehicle was about…
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Waymo, Uber lawsuit narrows after most patent claims dropped by Alphabet

In an ongoing legal dispute between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet has dropped three of four patent claims and they have been instructed by the judge in the case to significantly reduce the scope of the trade secret claims that form the heart of the lawsuit. The legal dispute commenced when Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle division, […]

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Uber Movement is a newly released treasure trove of data for city officials

On Sunday, the San Francisco-based company made available a tome of data based upon countless rides taken by its millions of customers each and every day. It was launched on a new website called “Uber Movement.”

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Uber gets slapped with lawsuit over missing food delivery tips

A courier in New York who used to deliver food for Uber has filed a lawsuit against the company over unpaid tips, according to Buzzfeed News. In the lawsuit, he said that tips from customers never made it to him and other delivery personnel for UberR…
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Uber just lost a huge case — U.K. drivers now considered workers

In a court case that may have ramifications in the U.S., U.K. Uber drivers are now considered workers entitled to minimum wage and paid time off. Uber said it will appeal, stating the majority of its drivers prefer to be self-employed.

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Uber wants to fly you to work in a small autonomous aircraft

Uber says it’s interested in launching a city-based air service to give riders access to faster modes of transport. But instead of using a good ol’ fashioned helicopter, it wants to develop a much quieter machine that can fly autonomously.

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Uber is expanding its efforts to give you a smoother ride

No Uber user wants a ride that has them lurching back and forth like a headbanger at a heavy metal gig. So in an effort to encourage smoother driving, the ride-hailing company is expanding recent efforts to improve driving skills.

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Walmart is testing grocery deliveries with Uber and Lyft

Online grocery deliveries are commonplace in Europe, but America's size makes it difficult for even the largest firms to offer it nationwide. That's why Walmart is teaming up with Uber and Lyft to test a delivery service for online shoppers. All a us…
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Federal judge’s ruling in sexual harassment cases deals setback to Uber

A federal judge ruled in two California cases that, even though Uber drivers are independent contractors, the company may still be liable in criminal cases. The court did not completely dismiss the charges against Uber in either case.

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Goodbye, 10-minute food delivery! Uber shuts down UberEats Instant Delivery in NYC

Are you an UberEats user who lives in New York City? Unfortunately, it may start taking a little longer for your food to be delivered — Uber has shut down the Instant Delivery section of the UberEats app.

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‘Marvin and Ara’ help Uber to its billionth ride

Uber’s come a long way since taking its first paying customer five-and-a-half years ago. The company said on Wednesday it hit a billion Uber trips on Christmas Eve, with the lucky driver and rider well rewarded for their incredible luck.

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Stories you missed: Netflix price hike, water on Pluto, Lyft hacks Uber

It can be challenging to keep track of everything that happens in the tech world. That’s why we have compiled a list of the top 10 tech stories from this week — just for you. From Netflix upping its subscription price to an attempted hack of Uber linked to competitor Lyft, it’s all here.

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Samsung releases SDK for the Gear S2, announces apps from ESPN, Uber, Nike, and more

Samsung’s released an updated Tizen SDK for the new Gear S2, and alongside it announced new apps from Nike, ESPN, and others. The development kit supports standalone functionality and features like the Gear S2’s unique bezel.

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Uber expands self-driving car project with University of Arizona partnership

Ride-hailing company Uber said Tuesday it’s linked up with the University of Arizona to help advance its driverless car project. The partnership will involve work on optics technology to develop its self-driving car’s mapping system and safety features.

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Uber unveils plans for plush new San Francisco headquarters

Following in the footsteps of a slew of big-name tech firms, Uber has revealed plans for a plush new headquarters in San Francisco. The complex, which is set to house around 3,000 workers, should be open for business by early 2018.

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