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  • Uber fined $900,000 in France for running illegal transportation operations with UberPOP

    Nearly a year after suspending UberPOP in France, Uber will now have to pay a fine. A criminal court in Paris has sanctioned Uber for its UberPOP operations between February 2014 and July 2015. The court is asking for $900,000 (€800,000) — half of it is a suspended sentence. Two of Uber’s executives are also getting fined.

    UberPOP has been the most controversial part of Uber in Europe, and many countries have been trying to ban the service. It was banned in Brussels, the Netherlands and, yes, France. But Uber tried to push the limits a bit too much in France.

    Last summer, a French anti-Uber protest turned became a guerrilla warfare as taxi drivers were protesting against Uber’s illegal competition with UberPOP.

    With UberPOP, anyone could become a driver without any special professional license. Many taxi drivers saw the service as unfair competition. And according to the French law, a service like UberPOP was illegal. So when an UberPOP driver got fined, Uber paid for the fine.

    A few days later, in an unrelated investigation, two Uber France executives were arrested for running an illegal taxi company. The two executives were charged with two different allegations.

    First, according to them, Uber is running illegal taxi operations. Uber has been struggling with this charge in many countries, starting with the U.S. In 2010, the company had tochange its original name from UberCab to Uber as taxi companies didn’t want to create any confusion.

     

    Second, the police said that Uber France was concealing digital documents. It’s hard to tell what the police was looking for when they raided the French office in March 2015. But apparently, some documents were missing and slowed down the investigation.

    In July 2015, Uber finally pulled the plug on UberPOP in France — Uber is still operating in France with professional black car drivers.

    Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty also got fined by the court in Paris as they’re personally held responsible for UberPOP. They’ll have to pay $34,000 and $23,000 (€30,000 and €20,000). Similarly, half of these fines are suspended sentences.

    Uber can still appeal the judgement, but it doesn’t look like UberPOP is coming back in France any time soon. And these fines shouldn’t hurt Uber too much given that the company just raised $3.5 billion.

    techcrunch

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  • Google patent would glue pedestrians to self-driving cars

    Google just got a patent for a special kind of coating on self-driving cars that could help prevent pedestrian injuries.
    The company wants to coat autonomous vehicles with a sticky substance so that if they hit a pedestrian, the person would be glued to the car instead of flying off.

    "[The pedestrian] is not thrown from the vehicle, thereby preventing a secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object," says the patent, granted on Tuesday.

    Google (GOOGL, Tech30) explains that an "adhesive layer" would be placed on the hood, front bumper and front side panels of a car. A thin coating would protect it until an impact occurred.

    Google's plan for self-driving cars is well known. The company has been testing its vehicles on roads in California and Arizona and is reportedly looking to hire people to test its cars for $20 an hour.

     

    The company now has 23 self-driving Lexus cars on the road and 34 of its mini prototype cars. The fleet is traveling about 10,000 to 15,000 miles every week in self-driving mode.

    Related: Google takes on Echo and Siri with 'Home' and assistant

    Google believes self-driving cars can help people get around easily and safely, but its vehicles aren't perfect.

    The company says all but one of the accidents so far have been the fault of human drivers in other vehicles. The one accident that Google admitted its self-driving car was responsible for was a fender bender that caused no injuries.

    Google's ultimate goal is to have a system of cameras, sensors and software that can predict and avoid almost all dangerous driving situations.

    "However, while such systems are being developed, it must be acknowledged that, on occasion, collisions between a vehicle and a pedestrian still occur," Google said in its patent filing.

    While the double-sided tape concept could mitigate some pedestrian injuries, the concept is far from ideal if it pinned a victim between the car and another object.

    "Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.

    CNNMoney (New York)

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  • Why GM's Deal With Lyft Should Raise Eyebrows

    Creating the right product is quintessential but picking the right partner comes pretty close.

    One way to gauge the meaning of what happens at the massive trade show CES this week is to focus on the products. Virtual reality systems, drones aplenty, bendable TVs, big-data solutions to complicated problems. These are just a few of the topics the techno-elite will jawbone about this week in Las Vegas.

    I’ve decided to focus instead on who’s partnering with whom. Ford Motor’s elusive CEO Mark Fields got me thinking about partnerships with a comment he madeto Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec on Monday. The topic was autonomous vehicles, but also Ford’s  F -1.50% ambitious list of experiments around what it blandly calls “mobility.” Said Fields: “In some cases, we’ll do things on our own. Other times (we) will work with others. It’s about what makes sense for Ford.”

     

    Well, duh. Of course it’s about what makes sense for Ford. The trick is seeing who partners well, who goes it alone, and who makes awkward marriages of convenience that everyone knows won’t work.

    General Motors  GM -1.53% , for example, made a giant bet—even for GM—by pledging to invest $500 million in the Avis of San Francisco-based ride-hailing services, Lyft. This may prove to be a bold move by GM, an opportunity to jumpstart its technology presence in the next wave of the automotive industry. It also might be a cry for help, a sign that mighty GM needed to vastly overpay just to get a seat at the kids’ table of next-generation automotive innovation.

    A hallmark of the stage-managed “keynote” presentations at CES is the partner segment, an awkward few minutes where the 600-pound gorilla of an industry shares the stage with another company that has something the incumbent doesn’t have. These kabuki set pieces are worth analyzing because they speak volumes about a company’s thinking.

    As a side note, the organization that runs CES proudly has announced that Lyft and Uber will be plying the streets of Las Vegas this week. This could be a true game changer for one of the most logistically challenging conferences ever.

    All hail innovation.

    Source: Fortune.com

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  • Uber Reveals How Much Its Drivers Really Earn…Sort Of

    Sign Up for Uber as A driver and Get 500 dollars

    Uber says its drivers make $6 more than traditional cab drivers, but the devil is in the details.

    Uber has long said its drivers get paid more than traditional cabbies. But do they really?

    New data from the ridesharing service itself gives the clearest look into the company’s business—and that of its drivers—than ever before. On Thursday, Uber released two reports: an anonymous survey of 601 Uber drivers and an analysis of the Uber labor market co-authored by Princeton economics professor Alan B. Krueger and Jonathan Hall, Uber’s head of policy research. Together, they provide information on how drivers use Uber, how much they make, and how fast Uber’s business is growing.

    The real scoop on wages

    The big news in this latest report is wage data. Previously, Uber stated the median driver in New York City was making $90,000 a year in “business income,” but this number was criticized by manybecause business income doesn’t include costs like gasoline, maintenance, car insurance, health insurance, and, you know, the car itself. Another complaint was that the company wasn’t being clear about how many hours one had to drive in order to make said $90k.

    This time around, Uber still isn’t including those costs when calculating drivers’ wages, but it has broken down earnings on a per-hour basis and compared them with government data on how much conventional taxi drivers take home. The results show an Uber driver makes an average of $6 per hour more than the average taxi/chauffeur/limo driver. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps those professions together, which makes for a reasonably fair comparison to Uber’s grouping of commercially licensed Uber Black drivers—a premium service—and lower-paid UberX drivers.)

    150122_EM_DriverPayChartUber

    These numbers are impressive, but Uber acknowledges that its driver-partners “are not reimbursed for driving expenses, such as gasoline, depreciation, or insurance, while employed drivers covered by the OES [Occupational Employment Statistics] data may not have to cover those costs.” So how much do these drivers really make, including expenses? It’s still hard to say. Uber told finance writer Felix Salmon that fuel, gas, maintenance, depreciation, and insurance would add about $15,000 per year in New York City.

    That works out to about $7.20 per hour (assuming a 40-hour work week), which would still leave New York Uber drivers ahead, but would seriously cut into Uber’s advantage across the board if costs in other cities are similar. It should also be noted that cab drivers likely share in many of those expenses. But cab drivers may not have to pay for their own vehicle, which drives Uber’s average net hourly wages even lower.

    The takeaway from all this? We don’t know much more than before, but it would appear that an Uber driver’s salary is at least on par with that of a normal cab driver, and potentially more.

    What kind of jobs is Uber providing?

    The good news is that the vast majority of Uber drivers—78%—are satisfied working for the company. But the data also reveal that many drivers see the ride-sharing service as a stopgap measure until they find a better job. The survey results show 32% of drivers said the major reason for partnering with Uber was “to earn money while looking for a steady, full-time job.”

     

    That makes sense considering nearly half of Uber’s drivers have a college degree or higher, well above the 18% of taxi drivers with similar credentials. Indeed, slightly more than half of Uber drivers became inactive one year after joining the service, suggesting they quit or found other work.

    That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One of Uber’s major selling points is that anyone can drive a car to earn a little extra money, and it has clearly succeeded in this regard. But the numbers demonstrate how Uber isn’t providing a career as much as an income supplement or temporary gig: Just 24% of Uber drivers say the company is their only source of personal income, and another 16% say Uber is their largest source of income but not the only one. Meanwhile, nearly 40% of drivers said Uber did not make up a significant source of their wages.

    Stunning growth

    Ultimately, it’s up to drivers to choose whether Uber makes sense for them, and the results seem to speak for themselves. In the United States, Uber says, more than 160,000 drivers had partnered with the company by the end of 2014, and almost 40,000 new U.S. drivers provided their first trips in December of last year. Thanks to Uber’s new data release, prospective drivers will have more information than ever when making their decision.

    Sign Up for Uber as A driver

    Source: Jacob Davindson

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