Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation selected 10 local, state and tribal governments to test drone commerce in partnership with Intel, Uber, FedEx and Qualcomm, among others. The Integration Pilot Program, promoted by the Trump administration to speed up approvals of longer-range unmanned flights, has enthused drone companies, including startups such as Flirtey and AirMap. Notably missing from the list, however, is Amazon, which has a project in development to deliver packages to people’s homes. Continue reading Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

The California Supreme Court replaced the existing test for determining whether employees are independent contractors with another, simpler one used in Massachusetts and New Jersey. The former test relied on 10 factors, including the amount of supervision, to assess the company’s control over the worker. The new “ABC” test deems the worker an employee if he does a job that is part of the “usual course” of the company’s business. The ruling could have a profound impact on Uber and others in the so-called gig economy. Continue reading California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Sensor Tower has found that iPhone users in the U.S. increased in-app purchase spending by 23 percent last year over 2016. Active users spent an average of $58 in 2017 using Apple’s in-app purchase or subscription options. The figures do not reflect e-commerce spending via sites like Amazon or payments for services such as Lyft or Uber. At roughly 62 percent of average spending, mobile gaming leads the charge in this sector. Subscription-based streaming services, and music, dating and lifestyle apps also contributed to the rise in spending. Continue reading iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Amazon’s Vision: Whole Foods as Urban Distribution Centers

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, Amazon.com Inc. has been working to more deeply integrate its new physical grocery stores into its online retail business. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has a vision that ties together the physical and the digital. Currently, the company is searching for larger Whole Foods locations to serve as grocery stores that double as urban distribution centers to enhance the efficiency of online order deliveries, according to a source close to the project.

Continue reading Amazon’s Vision: Whole Foods as Urban Distribution Centers

Hacker Accessed Customer Data From Orbitz Legacy System

Popular travel booking site Orbitz, owned by Expedia, confirmed yesterday that it “identified and remediated a data security incident affecting a legacy travel booking platform.” The company explained that a hack late last year exposed customer data and billing information spanning two years. Personal data may have included birth dates, mailing addresses, email addresses, gender, payment card info, and more. According to Orbitz, about 880,000 credit cards may have been affected. However, the company noted that the current Orbitz.com site was not breached. Continue reading Hacker Accessed Customer Data From Orbitz Legacy System

Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Many lawmakers in Washington — from Senators Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — are concerned about the amount of power that big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have accrued. Some have even floated the idea of an antitrust law to curb their influence. But the U.S. Supreme Court just heard a case — Ohio v. American Express — that may actually give the technology giants even more power, say the experts. The case looks at how to analyze “harmful conduct” by companies that serve “multiple groups of users.” Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

Uber Technologies has settled a year-old lawsuit brought by Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle unit Waymo, which claimed that Uber stole and used trade secrets. In the agreement, Uber said it would not use Waymo technology in its autonomous vehicles and make certain that no such Waymo components were already in use. The ride-hailing firm also agreed to give Waymo 0.34 percent of its equity, equal to about $245 million, based on a valuation of $72 billion. The companies settled four days after the trial started. Continue reading Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has debuted to mixed reviews. HomePod can stream music directly from Apple Music but no other popular music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. It’s equally partisan in that, despite its Bluetooth, users must use Apple’s own AirPlay to stream the music, and Android phones aren’t able to pair with it. The Home app lets users set up and control a variety of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. The system currently lacks the ability to link HomePods together for a multi-room setup. Continue reading Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

In October 2017, Alphabet debuted a partnership with Toronto to further the goals of a smart city. Dubbed Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet plans to observe and measure how people live, to optimize city streets. To that end, Alphabet just launched another venture under the Sidewalk Labs rubric, Coord, intended to utilize the company’s cloud-based platform to streamline transportation networks. Separately, ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, with 13 other companies, signed a shared “mobility pledge” to enable more livable cities. Continue reading Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

CES: Nvidia Stakes Claim to Automotive and Entertainment AI

In a roving two-hour presentation, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled a raft of products, partnerships and performance achievements at CES 2018. Focusing mostly on the automotive industry, Huang showed off the GPU giant’s new autonomous driving software stack powered by Xavier, a system-on-chip (SoC) for artificial intelligence-empowered car platforms, and touted partnerships with more than 320 car and truck companies. Huang also showcased a large HDR display for giant-screen, PC gaming and streamed an AI-generated motion picture theme composed in the style of “Star Wars” by John Williams. Continue reading CES: Nvidia Stakes Claim to Automotive and Entertainment AI

CES Tech Trends: 5G Ushers In a New Connected Ecosystem

On Sunday, January 7, CES 2018’s hottest trends were previewed in an event open only to press. CTA senior director of research Steve Koenig and senior manager of research Lesley Rohrbaugh divided tech trends into three parts: Ingredient or B2B technologies such as 5G, AI and robotics; In the Market tech comprised of native interfaces, digital senses and realism redefined; and Emerging Tech focused on smart cities, sports innovations and digital therapeutics. The technology that will make all of it possible, they say, is 5G. Continue reading CES Tech Trends: 5G Ushers In a New Connected Ecosystem

At CES 2018, Attendees Can Hail a Lyft/Aptiv Autonomous Car

At CES 2018, Lyft and Aptiv, a self-driving software company, will offer rides to show attendees in its automated ride hailing service (with a safety driver in the front seat). The goal, say the two companies, is to “accelerate the availability of automated driving platforms for commercial applications,” by operating in a complex environment such as the Las Vegas metro area. Aptiv is a subsidiary of Delphi Automotive, which split into two companies to emphasize its capabilities in self-driving technologies. Continue reading At CES 2018, Attendees Can Hail a Lyft/Aptiv Autonomous Car

GM Close to Commercial Version of Autonomous Chevy Bolt

GM is showing off its latest autonomous vehicles, battery-powered Chevrolet Bolts, to investment analysts in San Francisco. Up until now, the car manufacturer has been reluctant to subject the cars it’s developed through its Cruise Automation subsidiary to scrutiny, but now wants to signal that it’s getting closer to a real product. In fact, GM president Daniel Ammann revealed that the driverless cars will be ready for consumers in “quarters, not years.” GM also aims to launch a driverless taxi fleet by 2019. Continue reading GM Close to Commercial Version of Autonomous Chevy Bolt

New Uber CEO Faces the Impact of Undisclosed Data Breach

Uber Technologies acknowledged that one year ago it paid hackers $100,000 to hide a data breach that impacted 47 million accounts. The company fired then-chief security officer Joe Sullivan and deputy Craig Clark for both the breach itself and concealing it. The hackers got the names, emails and phone numbers of millions of riders as well as 600,000 drivers’ license numbers, although apparently Social Security numbers and credit card numbers were not accessed. Uber says it will inform those impacted by the breach in “coming days.” Continue reading New Uber CEO Faces the Impact of Undisclosed Data Breach

Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and major investor Benchmark reached an agreement over board seats, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar investment led by SoftBank Group. This investment will give Uber resources to fend off its global rivals. Until recently, Kalanick and Benchmark were in a stalemate; the new agreement will add six directors and change voting in a way that will limit Kalanick’s power on the board. These changes are the aftermath of scandals that led the board to force Kalanick out. Meanwhile, Uber is facing setbacks in the U.K. regarding the status of its drivers. Continue reading Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

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