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Uber, Lyft, and Waymo: A story of rivalry, love and betrayal

(TECH NEWS) Uber, Lyft and Waymo are the three biggest names in automated vehicles right now. They are also in the most awesome love triangle of all time.

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Transportation love triangle

Coming soon to roads near you: an autonomous vehicle love triangle.

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Here’s the scene: Uber and Lyft are Shakespearian rivals, bitterly battling it out since basically day one. Now Lyft is teaming up with Waymo, the artist formerly known as “The Google self-driving car project” that Uber jilted by stealing thousands of documents.

A tumultuous past

Uber and Lyft have history rife with strife. Since 2013, Uber employees have ordered and cancelled over 5,000 rides with Lyft to decrease driver availability. Most of these requests came from known Uber recruiters, who essentially tried to poach drivers in instances where they didn’t ghost on the ride request.

When Lyft entered the New York Market, Uber continued to play the villain.

The company texted current Uber drivers falsely claiming they could not legally work for both companies simultaneously.

Now a former Lyft employee is filing a class action lawsuit against Uber, alleging that from 2014 to 2016, the company used software to track Lyft drivers and lure them over to Uber. The suit claims multiple counts of privacy invasion in which Uber identified and tracked Lyft drivers, as well as driver who worked for both companies.

Continuing its villainous streak, former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski was accused of stealing around 14,000 files before leaving to join Uber’s self-driving trucking startup, Otto in early 2016.

New drama

A judge recently ruled Uber Technologies is definitely responsible for this, and granted a partial injunction against the company.

So Uber isn’t super-duper grounded, but they must return all documents taken from the Waymo project.

The ruling states Uber can still work on its own autonomous car project so long as the documents are returned by May 31, and Levandowski is removed from any related work.

Swerve

In a new plot twist, Lyft and Waymo are now getting together. According to insiders, Waymo signed a deal with Lyft to collaborate autonomous vehicle projects. This pairing means Waymo is closer to moving its self-driving cars from the research stage to a commercial market.

So far, Waymo’s vehicles have accrued over three million miles of real-world testing in Arizona, California, Texas, and Washington state. Waymo has partnered with Fiat Chyrsler to establish a minivan fleet, and is in talks with integrating its technology into fleet of Honda test vehicles.

Although few details have been released so far about the Lyft pairing, the companies are already singing each other’s praise.

A Lyft spokesperson said in a statement, “Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation.”

Likewise, Waymo commended Lyft saying, “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”

Funny how far mutual respect can get you.

Uber has not yet responded about the new couple, but infamous chief executive Travis Kalanick separately noted bringing autonomous cars to the commercial market is “existential” to the future of Uber.

As consumers, we just get to kick back and see if this new pairing will put Uber’s self-driving project on the fast track or if some new, exciting scandal will pop up. Stay tuned for further developments in the autonomous vehicle love triangle.

#autonomouslovetriangle

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Tech News

Tinder creators launch Ripple, a professional networking app void of pros

(TECH NEWS) Ex-Tinder employees have come together, backed by Match.com, to create a swipe-based professional network, but we don’t plan on giving it a second date.

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In 2015, we discussed briefly the possibilities of taking the dating app’s and repurposing them for professional networking. What if finding professional connections was as easy as finding a date on Tinder? Tinder (executives) literally heard us because they have introduced a solution in their new mobile app called Ripple.

Not to be confused with Ripple the cryptocurrency, Ripple the app is a professional networking tool that literally feels like Tinder.

As it should, the former CTO, Director of Engineering, and Lead Designer of Tinder all make up the founders, along with Mike Presz from Match.com. People who make good dating platforms came together for a professional networking solution that they hope makes networking easier, more natural, and more modern. I took the liberty of signing up for a few days and experimented with the app and I have a few things to say about it…

The good?

Design. Design. Design. The app has a luxuriously simple UI, and is fabulously easy to use. If you even tried Tinder for six minutes, you’ll be able to use this app. The use of symbols, big images, and easy UI is great. The application navigates simply.

It’s fantastic. It’s minimal, it’s content oriented, the interest categories are so good (but they could be better – no interest in process improvements? Go learn about Six Sigma) LinkedIn should look it. The profile set up takes no time at all, about five minutes and you’re ready to go.

But that’s about it.

Everything that’s not good? Everything else.

This is probably because the app is new, but there is nothing going on for the US market. I saw a lot of European professionals and professional groups, but zero people in my area, a major US metropolitan area also called Dallas-Fort Worth. The lack of content and the lack of professionals means the app has nothing.

I can’t rate group experience or say I met the mentor of my professional dreams because no one is on it. Which leads me to ask: What’s next?

The branding, marketing, and advertising for this app are going to have to take off. This is a beautiful product, but the lack of content makes it a pretty dull use. I had to actively remind myself to use it, and I’m in a serial relationship with LinkedIn.

Basically, no second date for me with Ripple until they get… something to happen.

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Tech News

The cutest part of CES was Sony’s AI robot doggo, Aibo

(TECH NEWS) The Consumer Electronics Show revealed the technologies that are dominating and will dominate the market, with Sony’s AI puppers stealing the show.

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One of the most endearing items to emerge from CES this year was Sony’s revamped robot dog, Aibo.

Aibo’s first unveiling in 1999 featured a blend of emergent Sony technology, such as their Memory Stick and companion operating system. By the time of its demise in 2006, the Aibo was equipped with a large vocabulary (it could speak 1,000 words) and could interact with an owner’s commands and motion. The computerized canine wasn’t limited to just the realm of their traditional counterparts, however – the 2006 model of the Aibo could take pictures from the eye-embedded camera system, play music, and write blogs.

Equipped with more personality and a better interactive capability with its environment, the 2018 Aibo looks more like a real dog as well.

Composed of 4,000 parts and OLED-screen eyes to more authentically mimic movements, Sony says it relies on sensor systems and embedded cameras akin to those in self-driving cars to provide as close to an authentic experience as they can. The cameras, located in nose and tail, allow the robot to learn its way around the house and to deliver it back to its charging station once the two-hour charge runs out.

Reviewers at CES noted that the updated version of the Aibo was very “puppy-likem” barking and scampering with unlimited energy.

The current model is also touch responsive on its head, back and under its chin, allowing the user to give “puppy love” in a way that mimics that of what real dogs like.

Perhaps proving that Aibo is capable of acting more and more like a real dog, the robot canine was unresponsive to commands from Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai on stage at its unveiling, prompting Hirai to return Aibo to Sony staff quickly.

Slated to go on sale in Japan later this year, the dog isn’t cheap, priced at nearly $1,800, but does find itself selling into a dedicated Aibo fanbase from its earlier issue and a consumer market which is hungrier and more accepting for interactive experiences of this type of poo-free pet ownership.

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Tech News

Lyft offers test rides in their autonomous cars – how’d it go?

(TECH NEWS) Lyft let passengers roll around Vegas in their self-driving cars, and surprisingly, no shocking viral videos resulted.

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If you haven’t been paying attention to the progress of self-driving cars, you’re in for a shock – they’re closer to a daily reality than you might think. As part of this year’s CES conference, Lyft offered test rides in a handful of their autonomous cars, and the results were reportedly decent.

Unlike other companies’ public tests in the past, Lyft’s demonstrations consisted of normal passengers taking normal routes in Las Vegas; there was little in the way of preemptive route control, meaning that the tests were as authentic as possible. Passengers were able to board autonomous Lyfts from the Las Vegas convention center, with some testers traveling well over three miles with minimal operator interference.

The cars themselves are designed by Aptiv, which is a technology company heretofore unaffiliated with Lyft.

While both companies are aware of the potential for flaws and the need to iron them out before production begins en masse, test riders reported that the cars were able to anticipate and respond to a myriad of traffic conditions (for example, slowing down to allow a faster vehicle to merge); this bodes well for the 2020 goal that many autonomous car companies have set.

Naturally, there were a few kinks in the cars’ respective operations, including yellow light confusion and some other finessing issues, wherein the cars’ human operators had to intervene.

The technology behind self-driving cars is only part of the equation, however. As autonomous vehicles become more commonplace, cities will have to adapt to accommodate them.

This process will most likely include things like redefining road architecture, legislation regarding car use (at the moment, autonomous cars must always have a driver in them), and implementation of smart technology.

There’s also the matter of public perception. While most of the reports from the Lyft demo in Las Vegas were positive, the fact remains that plenty of people will be skeptical of new technology – as well they should be, since any emerging technology is bound to make a few bad headlines before it evens out.

How Lyft counters this perception will be key in determining the future of its autonomous fleet, and perhaps even the future of autonomous cars as a whole.

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