A self-driving car has killed a pedestrian in Arizona, a grim first in the field of autonomous vehicles.
The car, which was operated by Uber and staffed by a human driver, was motoring through the city of Tempe when it struck a woman on foot. The New York Times reported that the woman was crossing the street but not at a crosswalk late Sunday night or early Monday morning. The woman's identity was not revealed.
Uber has suspended self-driving vehicles on public roads in Tempe and three other cities—Toronto, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh—where it was testing its autonomous vehicles.
Ready to zoom into the future? Uber is partnering with NASA to bring an air taxi service to Los Angeles as soon as 2020.
The battery-powered, four-person electric helicopter would sail above L.A.'s clogged, serpentine road network, logging 60 miles with just one four-minute charge. The project, dubbed Elevate, relies on UTM, NASA's emerging air traffic control technology.
UTM stands for unmanned traffic management, a way to control low-altitude flights, without orange flag–waving workers.
While this idea may seem far-fetched to outsiders, the project partners are optimistic that the flying cars could be a viable transit option by 2028, just in time for the L.A.'s Olympics hosting duties.
Previously, the company announced it will bring its flying car service to Dallas and Dubai.
According to Forbes, Embraer, Bell Helicopter, and Aurora, a Boeing-owned company, have already signed onto Elevate. Here's a video from Uber that explains the project, the research behind it, and next steps:
Yesterday, ride service company Uber launched its new website, Movement, which can be used to study traffic patterns and speeds across cities, as well as compare average trip times across certain points.
Movement’s data is be aggregated from Uber drivers' smartphones, which use accelerometers and global positioning technology.
Although not yet open to the general public, the website’s current disclosure explains Uber’s underlying purpose: “Over the past six and a half years, we’ve learned a lot about the future of urban mobility and what it means for cities and the people who live in them. We’ve gotten consistent feedback from cities we partner with that access to our aggregated data will inform decisions about how to adapt existing infrastructure and invest in future solutions to make our cities more efficient. We hope Uber Movement can play a role in helping cities grow in a way that works for everyone.”
Case studies can currently be found on the website, including insights from other cities and feedback from Uber’s early partners in Washington, D.C., and Sydney.
Once it's eventually open to all, Movement aims to meet the needs of various users. City officials can access detailed information that could be used for road improvements, major events, and new transit lines. Movement also intends to provide planners and policymakers with data for decision-making surrounding future infrastructure investments.
In some ways, Movement seems to be Uber’s peace offering to cities. According to The New York Times, the company hopes access to its data will persuade city planners to consider the company as part of urban development and transit systems for future city planning.
Uber has its critics, though. In the Fast Company article, “Here’s a fresh reminder how Uber and other gig-economy giants use data to get their way with cities,” Ruth Reader reports that giants such as Uber and Airbnb seem to be using their data resources as “means to quell anxious officials.” While receiving much-needed data and resources, she contends, city planners surrender the upper hand to gig-economy enterprises.
Hopefully, the future of Movement will bring truth to the words on its home page, “Let’s find smarter ways forward,” and a long-awaited middle-ground between these companies and the cities will be reached. You can visit Movement's website here.
Not content with 423,000 square feet designed by SHoP Architects in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Uber is expanding into Oakland. The company purchased the former Sears building from developer Lane Partners, who bought the building last year. Genlser is on deck to transform the old department store into 330,000 square feet of creative office space. The iconic chunk of real estate prominently faces both Broadway and Telegraph Avenue and its redevelopment marks a turning point for Oakland.
Renamed Uptown Station, the building is located atop the 19th Street BART station. The ride-share company plans to locate up to 3,000 employees in the Oakland headquarters, noting that some 2,000 Uber employees currently live in the East Bay. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the expansion is a game changer for Oakland. It reported that if Uber fills the whole space, it “would become Oakland’s largest employer, that isn’t a government agency or medical center.”
Gensler’s proposed renovation of the Sears Building comes with a possible $40 million dollar price tag. Interactive renderings done by Steelblue for Lane Partners show the old building stripped down to the concrete and brick, with an 85-foot-tall atrium spilling light into an interior courtyard full of retail spaces on the first floor.
"We're proud that Uber was attracted to Oakland's creative energy, incredible talent, progressive values, prime location and accessibility to the entire region," Oakland Mayor Leslie Schaaf was quoted as saying in the San Jose Mercury News.
While Uber will surely attract more investment in the neighborhood, Downtown Oakland’s revival since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake has also led to increasing displacement in the city’s urban core. Last month, UC Berkeley researchers at the Project For Urban Development released a study that tracks displacement and gentrification in the region. The accompanying interactive map shows a swath of advanced gentrification along Broadway from the Old Oakland historic district to the Temescal neighborhood.