|Uber acquires meal delivery service Postmates for $2.65 billion|
The Verge, July 6th
Uber will acquire food delivery service Postmates in a $2.65 billion all-stock deal intended to give the ride-hail company a much-need jolt after its offer to buy Grubhub fell apart amid antitrust scrutiny. Postmates’ app will continue to run separately after the acquisition, but it’ll be able to tap into a merchant and delivery network combined with Uber Eats. Uber says this will mean more restaurant options for consumers and more efficient deliveries for drivers who pick up multiple orders at a time. The companies intend for the deal to close in Q1 2021.
|AAA’s GIG Car Share brings 250 vehicles to Seattle,returning mobility option to city streets|
Geek Wire, June 30th
The new free-floating car-sharing service from AAA, which announced in February that it was expanding to the city, is officially available with 250 Toyota Priuses. The move represents a return to a mobility concept in Seattle which once saw hundreds of rentable vehicles from services such as car2go, ReachNow and LimePod. GIG — as in, get in and go — customers will be able to locate a vehicle, unlock it using a smartphone, drive it and drop it off anywhere within the designated 13-square-mile Seattle “home zone.”
|Amazon shakes up the race for self-driving—and ride-hailing|
Wired, June 26th
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says his company wants to be the “Amazon for transportation.” Friday, Amazon made clear that it intends to be the Amazon for transportation. The ecommerce giant said it had agreed to acquire Bay Area–based autonomous vehicle company Zoox, a deal reportedly worth more than $1 billion. (Amazon did not respond to WIRED’s queries.) Since its founding in 2014, Zoox has been known for its technical chops, its secretiveness, and its sky-high ambition. While Alphabet’s Waymo is focusing on self-driving tech and leaving the car building to places like Detroit, Zoox has stuck to its plan to design a robotaxi from the ground up—and operate a ride-hail service. In 2018, it showed off its first prototype vehicles, which look like sensor-laden golf carts on steroids. The company has also been testing its software on more conventional-looking Toyota Highlanders in San Francisco, where it is learning to handle chaotic city streets.
|Daimler-backed Momenta says its robotaxis will be fully driverlessand profitable in 2024|
Tech Crunch, June 30th
In China and the U.S., there’s much debate about when and how humans will achieve fully autonomous robotaxis at scale — cars that chauffeur passengers under complex road conditions without safety drivers behind the wheel. Until that day arrives, the bold claims from players in the field seem mostly out of reach. One recent pledge came from Momenta, one of Asia’s most valuable artificial intelligence startups and the country’s first autonomous driving company to reach the $1 billion unicorn valuation back in 2018. The four-year-old startup, which specializes in software solutions for autonomous vehicles (AVs), told TechCrunch recently that its entire robotaxi fleet will operate without safety drivers in 2024, while some of its vehicles will already be driverless by 2022.
|We’re about to see the Golden Age of drone delivery – here’s why|
World Economic Forum, July 6th
The way the world views drones is changing. Once a nuisance buzzing around our heads, drones are now life-saving tools in the battle against COVID-19. Instead of nuisance or novelty, drones are becoming necessary. Drones are shifting from a hyped-up super technology that can solve every challenge to a tool that can allow us to meet specific needs. This shift allows us to focus on specific implementations that drive the greatest return. Capital investments in some sectors are panning out, while markets are maturing around these uses. New aerial technologies are set to play a major role in an economy looking for innovative ways to meet the demands of the coronavirus crisis – and looking toward a global reset.
|The electric future of autonomous vehicles|
Tech Xplore, June 29th
Autonomous vehicles come at a cost: increased energy use. Some suggest that these increased power needs are significant enough to drastically reduce vehicle range, eliminating the possibility of electric autonomous vehicles. Instead, these analysts claim autonomous vehicles must be gas-electric hybrids. In a paper recently published in Nature Energy, Aniruddh Mohan, Shashank Sripad, Parth Vaishnav, and Venkat Viswanathan of Carnegie Mellon University determined that electric power can supply enough energy for an autonomous vehicle without a significant decrease in range.
|How May Mobility’s autonomous shuttle ambitions backfired|
Venture Beat, July 6th
By all appearances, May Mobility was a scrappy success story. The autonomous transportation startup made its debut at Y Combinator’s demo day in 2017, with a team that had been working on driverless tech since the third U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge in 2017. Within the span of a few years, May had a roster of paying customers in Michigan, Ohio, and Rhode Island as it raised tens of millions in venture capital from investors including Toyota and BMW.
|Will Wisk’s straight-to-autonomous air taxi strategy pay off?|
Aviation Today, July 2nd
July 1 marked the one-year anniversary of Wisk, an urban air mobility company formed as a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, though it wasn’t revealed to the public until last December.Wisk has been steadily building a long-term vision to bring autonomous air taxis to cities across the United States and the rest of the world, beginning with the electric two-seat Cora aircraft that has flown more than 1,300 times between seven full-scale aircraft in Hollister, California and New Zealand.
|Hyundai Mobis investing in VC funds to accelerate mobility tech|
The Brake Report, July 6th
Hyundai Mobis, which has been devoted to securing future car technologies by developing proprietary technologies and investing directly in global leaders, is diversifying its investment strategies by investing in global venture funds, etc. Hyundai Mobis announced on July 2nd it would invest a total of $20 million in ‘ACVC Partners’ and ‘MOTUS Ventures,’ tech funds in Silicon Valley. This decision was made with the aim of securing future mobility technologies and growth engines in various ways to help contend with the rapidly changing business environment. By so doing, Hyundai Mobis will be able to preemptively secure global allies necessary for its strategies represented by autonomous driving, electrification and connectivity.
|Automotive Subscription Plans in a State of Flux|
The Detroit Bureau, July 6th
While Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac may have scrapped their subscription services, these low-commitment options are still being offered by at least nine other manufacturers – as well as several third-party vendors. These services, which offer flat-rate, all-inclusive pricing and, in many cases, the ability to swap between different vehicles, were being hailed as the future by many analysts not all that long ago.The defections by Mercedes and Caddy raise questions about whether the subscription concept works as well as anticipated. But the fact that both those automakers are still considering ways to get back in the game suggests the low-commitment approach to automotive retailing isn’t ready to disappear.
|Lyft resumes autonomous vehicle testing on public roads|
Venture Beat, June 30th
Roughly three months after the pandemic halted its autonomous vehicle tests, Lyft today announced its safety operators will resume driving a portion of its cars on public roads. An employee-only autonomous ride-hailing pilot in Palo Alto remains on pause. But in a blog post, Lyft director of product Sameer Qureshi and director of engineering Robert Morgan characterized road testing as a “critical” part of Lyft’s driverless systems development.
|Converting Uber and Lyft to electric vehicles will triple carbon benefits|
The Driven, July 1st
Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft have already provided 5.5 billion rides to more than 50 million users, so the meteoric rise of the young companies is drawing attention on how the transition to electric vehicles will benefit the environment. In June, Lyft announced it will commit to electrifying 100% of its largely privately owned fleet by 2030, a move that it is undertaking in partnership with the US-based Environmental Defense Fund. Uber in 2018 launched its “EV Champions” initiative to pilot fleet electrification via a driver-partners program in seven US cities, and has also committed to helping London Uber drivers to make the transition to zero emissions vehicles by 2025.
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The Aioi Insurance Services USA team