Next-Gen Mobility News, Vol. 6

May 26th

Welcome to the 6th edition of our bi-weekly recap of the latest and greatest in connected and on-demand mobility. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well! As restrictions continue to be lifted in parts of the US, one of the areas we are keeping an eye on are the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the mobility industry.  If you’re not already receiving this email, you should be:  Subscribe
   
Face mask rules grow among airlines, ride-hail services and other modes of transit but enforcement proves a challenge
The Seattle Times, May 13th
Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are requiring drivers and passengers to wear masks while using their services, joining a growing list of transportation companies hoping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as some cities emerge from lockdown.
Zipcar rethinks car-share experience as virus changes the way we travel
Cheddar, May 19th
As the pandemic took hold in the U.S. in March, GM hit pause on Maven, its experiment in the car-share space, before shutting it down for good last month. But Zipcar, which is now a sort-of elder statesman of the new mobility sector, sees opportunity amid the crisis. Last week, the company, a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, announced it would make it easier for customers to access its fleet of cars without having to go through a sign-up process. The feature, dubbed Instant Access, allows licensed drivers to snag an available car within minutes. 
Amazon launches food delivery service in India
Tech Crunch, May 21st
The e-commerce giant, which has invested more than $6.5 billion in India, today launched its food delivery service, called Amazon Food, in select parts of Bangalore. The company originally planned to launch the service in India last year, which it then moved to March but pushed it further amid the nationwide stay-at-home order the Indian government issued in late March.
Uber lays off 3,000 more workers, shifts focus to food delivery
S.F. Eater, May 20th
The app-based food delivery business has always been a fraught one, pockmarked by massive losseshostile legislators, and a landscape so competitive that delivery apps add restaurants without consent (and to the apps’ financial detriment) just to remain in the game. It’s that business that San Francisco-based transportation giant Uber now says might be its salvation, as it continues to struggle with losses related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Autonomous delivery companies stress need for clearer rules on deployment
Venture Beat, May 22nd
During an online event this week hosted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), three panelists — Cruise’s Eric Danko, Wing’s Nick Devereux, and Nuro’s Matthew Lipka — spoke about the need for regulation of autonomous delivery systems during health crises like the pandemic. All three asserted that their companies, which continue to or recently began delivering food, medical supplies, and essential goods to customers, have been hampered by a patchwork of local and federal laws that don’t adequately reflect the current technology landscape.
KIA says micro-EV could replace public transportation
Clean Technica, May 26th
KIA is one company that has considered the future and it thinks inexpensive, ultra-compact, short range electric cars may be a viable alternative to public transportation. Emilio Herrera, chief operating officer of KIA Motors Europe, tells Auto Express his company has noticed the increase in the use of private vehicles since the coronavirus pandemic  began.
How coronavirus is accelerating a future with autonomous vehicles
MIT Technology Review, May 18th
Countries around the world have responded to the covid-19 coronavirus with lockdowns, restrictions, and technology solutions that use artificial intelligence to combat the virus. As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, China is first to emerge from covid-19 imposed lockdowns thanks to cutting-edge technology, with autonomous vehicles and smart cities seeing an acceleration during this time. 
How mobility startups can help authorities fix public transport after the pandemic
The Next Web, May 22nd
Mobility has been impacted the world over due to the COVID 19 crisis. From public transport, to micromobility, to individual auto commuting, all modes have seen a dramatic decrease in usage across the urban ecosystem. What is yet to be seen is how cities and their inhabitants will move in the coming days, weeks, months and years. We are starting to get a preview of what is to come, based upon innovative, sustainable, and human centric initiatives being introduced at the local and urban level.
Poll: Nearly half of U.S. drivers skeptical of autonomous cars
Govt Tech, May 22nd
(TNS) — Nearly half of Americans say they would not get in a self-driving taxi, according to a poll commissioned by the advocacy group Partners for Automated Vehicle Education. The poll, conducted online in February and March by SurveyUSA, found widespread skepticism and confusion about autonomous vehicles.
Calif. voters to decide whether AB5 applies to rideshare drivers
CBS Los Angeles, May 25th
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – This November, California voters will decide whether drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft should be classified as freelancers or employees. Last September, the California Legislature passed the controversial Assembly Bill 5, a law which requires companies who employ gig workers, such as rideshare drivers, to reclassify them as employees, affording them benefits including minimum wage, overtime and unemployment insurance.
Waymo is using AI to simulate autonomous vehicle camera data
Venture Beat, May 20th
Waymo says it’s beginning to leverage AI to generate camera images for simulation by using sensor data collected by its self-driving vehicles. A recent paper coauthored by company researchers including principal scientist Dragomir Anguelov describes the technique, SurfelGAN, which uses texture-mapped surface elements to reconstruct scenes and camera viewpoints for positions and orientations.
Autonomous aviation startup Xwing raises $10M to scale its softwarefor pilotless flights
Tech Crunch, May 20th
Autonomous aviation startup Xwing locked in a $10 million funding round before COVID-19 hit. Now the San Francisco-based startup is using the capital to hire talent and scale the development of its software stack as it aims for commercial operations later this year — pending FAA approvals.