Appeals Court Gives Lyft, Uber Greenlight to Operate for Now

Hours before Lyft and Uber planned to suspend their services to protest the ruling to reclassify their drivers as employees, an appeals court allowed them to continue operating during the appeals process. Uber spokesperson Matt Kallman noted that the company is glad “that access to these critical services won’t be cut off while we continue to advocate for drivers’ ability to work with the freedom they want.” The companies must still submit plans for hiring employees by early September, in case their appeal is denied. Continue reading Appeals Court Gives Lyft, Uber Greenlight to Operate for Now

California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

In California, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman confirmed Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s decision that Lyft and Uber are violating California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). Schulman paused the injunction for 10 days to allow those companies to appeal his decision. AB5 requires that the two ride-hailing companies reclassify their California drivers as employees, making them eligible for healthcare and overtime among other perks. Due to COVID-19, Uber suffered a 67 percent decline in the June quarter. Continue reading California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

Ride-Sharing Slumps, Leaving Uber and Lyft Drivers in Limbo

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Uber’s business slumped between 60 and 70 percent. After saying in February that it expected to generate between $16 billion and $17 billion this year, the company now says it cannot forecast its revenue. D.A. Davidson senior research analyst Tom White said that, with regard to ride-sharing, “the whole country is going to be down 70 to 80 percent.” The coronavirus has also highlighted a crucial labor issue: whether ride-share drivers are considered employees or independent contractors. Continue reading Ride-Sharing Slumps, Leaving Uber and Lyft Drivers in Limbo

NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

At CES 2019, Tel Aviv-based Guardian Optical Technologies debuted Optical Cabin Control (OCC) for the car’s interior. The single camera, a bit bigger than one featured in a mobile phone, is installed in the car’s ceiling and uses machine learning to keep an eye on the driver — and the kids in the backseat. More specifically, the camera watches to see if the driver takes his hands off the wheel, his eyes off the road or closes his eyes. To train the system, the company hired a diverse group of people, wearing different clothes and holding various accessories and pets. Continue reading Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Although Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has touted the possibility of drones delivering packages, he’s now talking up human drivers. This summer, he declared that would-be entrepreneurs could earn $300,000 per year by investing as little as $10,000 up front in creating their own delivery businesses. Following in FedEx’s footsteps, Amazon now wants to build a national network of independent delivery people, offering discounts on vans and insurance and an endless supply of packages to deliver. Continue reading Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Teamsters Organize Uber Drivers Classified Indie Contractors

Riding-sharing app Uber has tussled with its drivers over how to define their status: independent contractors or full-time employees. Uber prefers to identify its drivers as independent contractors, which lets it off the hook for paying minimum wage, overtime and its share of Social Security. Recent settlements in class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts, which must be approved by a judge, allow Uber to continue this classification. The Teamsters union is busy organizing drivers who want representation. Continue reading Teamsters Organize Uber Drivers Classified Indie Contractors

Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

Ride-hailing service Uber is expanding its new meal delivery service to 10 U.S. cities in the coming weeks. People in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Austin, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle and Dallas will be able to order food from dozens of local restaurants through a dedicated UberEats app and have an Uber driver deliver the meal. UberEats will have longer hours of operation than Uber’s existing lunchtime-only food delivery service in these cities. Continue reading Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

Uber Adjusts its Employment Policies and Calls for New Apps

Uber Technologies is tweaking how it does business. In California, the ride-sharing company will no longer reject potential drivers due to a nonviolent or nonsexual offense, such as petty theft or check fraud. It will also tell those rejected why and describe steps they can take to reduce their felony conviction to a misdemeanor. Uber is also now promising drivers more money to work during heavy demand periods, and is inviting smartphone app developers to create customized “trip experiences” for riders. Continue reading Uber Adjusts its Employment Policies and Calls for New Apps

GM Invests $500 Million in Lyft and Partners on New Initiatives

Ride-hailing service Lyft announced yesterday that General Motors recently invested $500 million in the San Francisco-based startup. The investment represents half of Lyft’s latest venture financing round, which values the company at $4.5 billion. GM and Lyft will work together to develop an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles, taking on companies such as Google, Tesla and Uber in the process. In addition, the two companies are planning short-term car rental hubs that would provide work opportunities for potential Lyft drivers who do not have their own vehicles. Continue reading GM Invests $500 Million in Lyft and Partners on New Initiatives

PC Accessory Turns Your Laptop into a Touchscreen Device

Sweden-based Neonode recently unveiled AirBar, a $49 laptop accessory that attaches its magnetic sensor bar to a Chromebook or Windows laptop PC and connects via an available USB port. It then beams a light over the display to create a sort of touchscreen. AirBar’s use of light rather than a traditional, physical touchscreen allows users to interact with their displays in a variety of new ways, such as while wearing gloves or using small objects like a stylus or even chopsticks. Neonode is expected to debut its new accessory at CES in Las Vegas this week. Continue reading PC Accessory Turns Your Laptop into a Touchscreen Device

Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

E-commerce giant Amazon launched a new delivery system this week called Amazon Flex. The Uber-like model offers individuals with their own vehicles and an Android smartphone the opportunity to deliver packages for $18-25 per hour. Drivers have the option of two-, four- or eight-hour shifts. In addition to a car and an Android phone for managing deliveries with the Flex app, drivers must be over 21 and pass a background check. The new system, initially rumored back in June, works with Amazon’s Prime Now service, which offers members one- and two-hour delivery on items. Continue reading Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

Google Developing a Standalone Android System for Vehicles

With its Android Auto software arriving in 2015, Google is already focusing on its next project, one that would allow drivers to make use of Android in their cars without a smartphone. As of now, the use of smartphone auto tech, including Android Auto, requires the presence of a smartphone inside the vehicle. For Google, part of the challenge moving forward will be in convincing automakers to adopt software that would potentially be an integral part of a car’s brand identity. Continue reading Google Developing a Standalone Android System for Vehicles

Google’s Self-Driving Car Faces New California DMV Rules

California’s DMV requires — in new rules which will take effect September 16 — that, when necessary, a driver must be able to take “immediate physical control” of any vehicle on public roads. This process has traditionally involved a steering wheel and brake and accelerator pedals, which could be a setback for Google’s self-driving car, that does not include these parts. While Google said that it will add them for testing purposes, it is unclear what the company will do in the future. Continue reading Google’s Self-Driving Car Faces New California DMV Rules

Gamification: Samsung App Rewards Drivers for Not Texting

A new app from Samsung was developed with the intention of keeping drivers off their phones while behind the wheel. Startling statistics indicate that text messaging while driving makes you 23 times more likely to get in an accident. More startling yet is that more than 77 percent of young American adults believe they’re able to text while safely driving. To combat that, Samsung’s new Android app, “Eyes on the Road,” turns not texting into a game with tangible rewards for safe driving. Continue reading Gamification: Samsung App Rewards Drivers for Not Texting