Tag: Uber

By Gugu Lourie for Tech Financials

Uber is launching Uber Direct in South Africa as coronavirus minimises the demand for its traditional ride-hailing business.

Uber Direct is an on-demand and scheduled last-mile delivery solution for businesses.

Businesses can use Uber Direct to move their goods within their supply chain, and between locations to better balance supply and demand, ensuring customers receive their orders when required.

“This is our broadest effort yet to help businesses meet unprecedented demand for delivery, and helping people stay at home while still getting the items they need,” Alon Lits, director for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa explains.

“Uber Direct also allows us to unlock economic opportunities for delivery people and drivers now and beyond the lockdown. Safety continues to be a top priority, and we are regularly providing drivers and delivery people with information to help them stay safe.”

Millions of people around South Africa go without food each day, with the lockdown and continued call for self-distancing, this number is expected to increase.

South Africa has extended its 21-day lockdown by two weeks to the end of April.

Uber has partnered with the Western Cape Department of Health and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to deliver medication to South Africa’s citizens most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Dr Giovanni Perez, Chief Director of Metro District Health Services at the Western Cape Government Department of Health says, “This partnership is a great example of how the public and private sector can work together, regardless of any challenges, for the well-being of the people.“

In the first two weeks of the partnership, over 25 000 people received their medication, with many more safe and contactless deliveries being made daily.

Oumar Seydi, Africa Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation highlights how important this initiative is as part of the COVID19 response, ‘Finding innovative ways of protecting the most vulnerable populations is critical at this time and we are honoured to be part of this innovation to get medication in the hands of those who need it most.”

Uber has also partnered with SA Harvest, a food rescue organisation that aims to eradicate food waste, to expand and optimise deliveries to their beneficiary organisations in the Western Cape. This is to ensure more vulnerable people are fed daily and will further allow SA Harvest to expand their deliveries in Gauteng in the coming weeks.

Uber, Bolt drivers go on strike

By Ayanda Nyathi for EWN

Uber and Bolt drivers are considering roping in the Department of Transport to help solve their ongoing issues around safety and pay.

Drivers staged a disruptive protest on Wednesday, raising concerns over security and the payment arrangements they had with their companies.

Uber and Bolt drivers said they felt they were being taken for a ride and were plotting their next move. The protest was partially disrupted by clashes with police who at times fired rubber bullets.

The drivers were calling for the payment arrangement they had with Uber and Bolt to be relooked at and wanted measures introduced to improve their safety.

Protest leader Sibusiso Ngwenya said the clashes with police would not deter them.

“We are planning to engage with the Department of Transport to ask that they intervene and speak to the e-hailing companies,” he said.

By Lisa Martin for The Guardian 
Image credit: Uber Elevate

Uber Air says Melbourne will be a trial site for its new aerial ridesharing service that it is claiming will shuttle people around cities by 2023.

Melbourne will be the first city outside the US to host trials of Uber Air, a service the company describes as “aerial ridesharing” that will shuttle people from rooftop to rooftop for the price of an UberX.

The company has flagged test flights will begin next year, with commercial operations to start in 2023.

Passengers will travel in “electric vertical take-off” contraptions.

The service will operate using the Uber app, allowing passengers to travel across a network of landing pads called “Skyports”.

Uber spokesman Eric Allison said the concept had the potential to reduce traffic congestion which costs the Australian economy an estimated $16.5bn a year.

“The 19km journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by car in peak hour, but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes,” Allison said.

Dallas and Los Angeles in the US will also be pilot cities. Melbourne beat cities in Brazil, France, India and Japan.

The Victorian treasurer, Tim Pallas, said the announcement was testament to Melbourne’s record of innovation.

“Victorians have a can-do attitude and we hope Uber Air will give us the altitude to match it,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Pallas said there had been no request from Uber for financing.

He said he wanted to put his hand up as the first customer.

“I’m Uber excited,” he joked.

RMIT University aerospace engineer expert Matthew Marino said the concept would potentially be safer than driverless cars.

“While a driverless car would be faced with obstacles on the road like pedestrians on their mobile phones or other vehicles like trams and buses, aerial autonomous vehicles don’t have these obstructions,” he said.

“We need to prove to people that this technology can be as safe as helicopters, which regularly fly in our cities. More research and development are needed in this area.”

Centre for Urban Research expert Chris De Gruyter was sceptical about whether Uber Air can can solve transport problems.

“These vehicles are very low capacity – similar to what a car could carry – while there are also questions about if these vehicles will create visual clutter in the sky and how environmentally friendly they are,” he said.

“Another risk is empty running, where there are no passengers, but the vehicle has to travel to pick people up from another location.”

By Lucinda Shen for Fortune

As of Monday’s market close, those who bought into Uber at its IPO are down roughly $1.4 billion.

But very early investors, and now, the bankers that helped take the company to market are in the green. Uber shelled out $106.2 million to a bevy of underwriters led by Morgan Stanley, per filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The group also includes Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup, and Allen & Company.

That comes as shares of Uber fell another 11% Monday—pulling its valuation down to $62 billion and representing a collective $1.4 billion loss for those who bought in at the company’s $45 IPO price. Assuming that Uber drivers took up all shares offered to them at the IPO price, they are collectively looking at paper losses of about $43.2 million.

On Friday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sought to calm his employees regarding Uber’s stock price.

“Like all periods of transition, there are ups and downs,” he wrote in a note to workers.”Remember that the Facebook and Amazon post-IPO trading was incredibly difficult for those companies. And look at how they have delivered since.”

In particular—Facebook’s IPO may echo strongly with that of Uber’s. That IPO too involved Morgan Stanley in the lead role. Following a lackluster first day of trading, the bank’s fees, as well as trades stemming from its role as the lead in the deal, were heavily scrutinized. A Massachusetts regulator later fined Morgan Stanley $5 million over the IPO, arguing the underwriter had selectively disclosed information to certain clients over others.

It remains to be seen whether similar investigations will follow Uber’s IPO. But for now, count the banks as one of the few parties that have profited from this deal.

By Sarah Evans for News24 

Uber faces a class action suit by customers who say they suffered emotional trauma and physical injuries while using its service. Eleven people represented by Ulrich Roux Attorneys will approach the High Court in an effort to pursue a damages claim from the transportation service as a class action.

The class action comes on the back of criminal and civil suits involving people who were harmed, allegedly while using Uber.

In a criminal case, four men are currently facing trial on a number of charges including rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder. They allegedly attacked five Uber users between July and August 2016.

According to the charge sheet, the accused’s modus operandi was for one of them to pose as an Uber taxi driver and pretend to be the driver who received the victim’s Uber request. But he was not the driver linked to the victim’s Uber app.

In most of the cases, the other accused would emerge from the boot of the car, through the back seat, and attack the victims, stabbing and raping them in all cases but one, which was an attempted rape. The victims were also robbed of their belongings and made to tell the accused their bank account details.

In the civil case, Roux said that eight people had come forward wanting to claim damages from Uber for incidents that took place while they were using the service.

Safety ‘a top priority’

Roux said that the team of lawyers was drafting an application to have the case certified as a class action, which must be approved by the High Court before it can proceed. He said the team believed that Uber had “vicarious liability” in these incidents, as it advertised the service as safe and reliable to use.

Uber told News24 on Thursday that it could not comment on a case that has not yet begun, however, its thoughts remain with the riders affected by these incidents, it said.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the riders and their families, these incidents are deeply upsetting.

“As soon as these incidents were reported we reached out to local authorities and whatever information we could provide was handed over to the police and it was this close collaboration that led to the arrest of the suspect. In cases of this nature we work closely with police to support their investigations,” Uber explained in a statement on Thursday.

The taxi service also wished to clarify that since these incidents, it had undertaken to improve its verification process and safety features for riders and drivers.

“Safety is a top priority for Uber, and has been since our launch in South Africa. We’re committed to doing the right thing and take on our part of the responsibility to increase safety.

“We constantly invest and innovate to raise the bar on safety,” Uber said.

Source: Fin24

A London court has granted ride-hailing firm Uber a licence to keep operating in the capital, accepting the firm’s assertions that its corporate culture had changed and that it should be allowed to keep driving on the streets of London.

However, Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot on Tuesday granted an operating licence lasting only 15 months.

The firm told Westminster Magistrates’ Court it has made significant changes since a regulator refused to renew the company’s operating licence last year over public safety concerns.

The company insists it has changed, and a clean break with the past means it should be granted a new licence.

By Daniel Cooper for Engadget

Problematic transportation outfit Uber is thinking about a way to use your phone to determine if you’ve been drinking. A patent application was uncovered by CNN, entitled “Predicting user state using machine learning,” which outlines the general idea. Essentially, by watching how you behave day-to-day, the system can pick up when your behavior is normal (for you) or abnormal. That could be, for instance, how you use your phone, the angle at which you hold it, and even how you’re walking.

Obviously there are some common sense elements to this, too, especially if you’re requesting a ride in the small hours from a notorious night spot. The thinking is that drivers will be fed this information ahead of you boarding the vehicle to better prepare them for what’s coming. A cynical reading of the plans could mean that drivers choose not to pick up a ride from a drunk passenger to avoid trouble. That would likely mean they’re left fending for themselves or, worse still, choose to drive themselves instead.

Of course, patent applications are mostly the province of companies wealthy enough to devote such time to dreaming up new ideas. Wacky concepts and ideas are patented all the time in the hope that, in years to come, they prove to be both useful and profitable. There’s no indication that this system is going to pop up in Uber’s customer-facing app in the near future, although it certainly could do.

Pedestrian killed by self-driving car

Source: Associated Press via News24

Police in a Phoenix suburb say one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles has struck and killed a pedestrian.

Police in the city of Tempe said on Monday that the vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel when the woman walking outside of a crosswalk was hit.

Police say that the accident happened overnight on Sunday when the woman was walking outside of a crosswalk.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, died of her injuries at a hospital.

Uber has been testing the self-driving vehicles in Tempe and Phoenix for months.

Police said Uber is cooperating in the investigation.

The company will stop the testing of its self-driving cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The testing has been going on for months in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto as automakers and technology companies compete to be the first with the technology.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account and said the company is working with local law enforcement on the investigation.

(Find out how you can seek legal aid to receive compensation after a personal injury by visiting The Clark Law Office).

The federal government has voluntary guidelines for companies that want to test autonomous vehicles, leaving much of the regulation up to states.

The US Department of Transportation is considering other voluntary guidelines that it says will help foster innovation. But Transportation Secretary Elaine Chaos also has said technology and automobile companies need to allay public fears of self-driving vehicles, citing a poll showing that 78 percent of people fear riding in autonomous vehicles

The number of states considering legislation related to autonomous vehicles gradually has increased each year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2017 alone, 33 states introduced legislation.

California is among those that require manufacturers to report any incidents to the motor vehicle department during the autonomous vehicle testing phase. As of early March, the agency received 59 such reports.

57-million Uber users hacked

Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers and the ride-hailing company allegedly paid them $100,000 to delete the information and “go away”.

The data was compromised in October 2016, and Uber has managed to conceal the breach for more than a year, according to Bloomberg.

Uber claims they were involved in negotiations with US regulators about separate privacy violations at the time of the breach.

But the company now admits they were legally required to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken.

However, Uber reportedly paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data instead.

Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, was fired this week for his role in keeping the hack quiet. One of Sullivan’s deputies was also fired for helping.

Ex-CEO and co-founder, Travis Kalanick, reportedly found out about the hack in November 2016, but at the time Uber had just settled a lawsuit with the New York attorney general over the company’s privacy practices.

Dara Khosrowshahi took over as Uber’s new CEO in September.

‘None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,’ Khosrowshahi said in a press statement on Tuesday. ‘We are changing the way we do business.’

‘At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals.

‘We subsequently identified the individuals and obtained assurances that the downloaded data had been destroyed. We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts,’ Khosrowshahi said.

The hackers stole names, email addresses, and phone numbers from 50 million Uber riders worldwide, said in the statement.

Personal information from 7 million drivers was also compromised. That figure includes about 600,000 US driver’s license numbers that were stolen.

Uber claims that no one’s Social Security numbers, credit card details, or trip location information was stolen.

The company said they don’t believe the information was ever used. Uber also declined to release the identities of the hackers.

‘While we have not seen evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident, we are monitoring the affected accounts and have flagged them for additional fraud protection,’ Khosrowshahi said.

Dara Khosrowshahi took over as Uber’s new CEO in September. ‘None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,’ Khosrowshahi (pictured last month) said. ‘We are changing the way we do business’ +5
Dara Khosrowshahi took over as Uber’s new CEO in September. ‘None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,’ Khosrowshahi (pictured last month) said. ‘We are changing the way we do business’

Uber’s hack joins the ranks of other massive hacks such as Yahoo and Equifax. In September, Equifax reported that the hack compromised the sensitive information of 145.5 million people and the Yahoo hack affected three billion +5
Uber’s hack joins the ranks of other massive hacks such as Yahoo and Equifax. In September, Equifax reported that the hack compromised the sensitive information of 145.5 million people and the Yahoo hack affected three billion

According to Bloomberg, Sullivan, who joined Uber in 2015, was the guy who spearheaded the response to the hack last year.

Last month, an investigation was launched into the activities of Sullivan’s security team. During the investigation, the hack and cover-up were discovered.

Uber said two attackers gained access to private GitHub coding site used by Uber software engineers, according to Bloomberg.

From there, the hackers used login credentials they obtained from GitHub to access data stored on an Amazon Web Services account.

The hackers then found an archive of rider and driver information. Once the information was accessed, the attackers asked Uber for money.

Khosrowshahi said he’s bringing on board Matt Olsen, a co-founder of a cybersecurity consulting firm and former general counsel of the National Security Agency and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, for guidance on ‘how best to guide and structure our security teams and processes going forward’.

The company is currently in the process of ‘individually notifying the drivers whose driver’s license numbers were downloaded’. Uber will also provide these drivers with free credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

Uber’s hack joins the ranks of other massive hacks such as Yahoo and Equifax. In September, Equifax reported that the hack compromised the sensitive information of 145.5 million people.

And last month, Yahoo admitted that three billion Yahoo users were affected by the 2013 data theft that the company originally said had only affected 1 billion users.

By Valerie Edwards for Daily Mail

New Gumtree scam uses Uber drivers

A MyBroadband reader recently faced a scam involving Gumtree, Taxify, and his iPhone 7 Plus.

It started when he posted his iPhone 7 Plus 256GB on Gumtree, and received five calls to purchase the device on the first day.

“All of them said they do not use WhatsApp. All said they will send an Uber to collect. All offered to send documents,” he said.

Scammers appear to be trawling Gumtree for high-value items, like an iPhone, then try to steal them by offering to purchase the item, and sending forged documents and notifications.

This is done when potential victims agree to accept an EFT.

The scammer knows which bank the victim uses and sends an SMS stating a deposit has been made into their bank account from a different bank.

This is so they have an excuse for why the money hasn’t cleared if checked. They then send an SMS that looks like a deposit notification from the victim’s bank.

Scam

In the reader’s case, the scammer said he was sending his “friend” to collect the iPhone after he had made the “payment”.

The “friend” turned out to be a Taxify driver, who had little knowledge of the person he was collecting the phone for.

The reader said after handing his device over, he felt something was wrong, and went to the guard house where he stays and got the driver’s number from the sign-in book.

He called the driver, explained he thought the collection was a scam, and the driver returned – cancelling the trip.

The scammer the driver did the pickup for was a cash customer, who then contacted him and offered R1,500, then R3,000, to complete the delivery. The driver declined.

“These criminals are using Uber and Taxify with cash payment options to get the drivers to do the hard work and collect the items from victims,” said the reader.

Fighting cons

Gumtree said fraudulent proof of payment is not new in online marketplaces.

“Although we haven’t seen many cases like this, it seems that Uber or Taxify is another way of making it harder to trace the actual perpetrator,” said Gumtree.

“We urge community members to inform us via our 24/7 contact centre if they encounter a suspicious buyer or seller.”

Gumtree stated that victims or potential victims must also contact the SAPS about any scam incidents.

The company said it will speak to Uber and Taxify to collaborate and combat this activity.

Uber recently introduced new safety features which require cash riders to link a Facebook account to their Uber profile, which it verifies, before using the service.

Called Social Connect, only new sign-ups are currently required to link their Facebook account.

Uber said there is potential for Social Connect to expand to existing users in future.

Taxify did not respond to requests for comment.

Safety features

One way to avoid falling victim to a scam is to use a third-party escrow service, like Shepherd – which is offered by Gumtree in conjunction with Standard Bank.

The service charges 3.95% of the transaction value, with a minimum charge of R30.

Shepherd also charges separately for its shipping service – starting at R100 for items below 2kg, and R169 for items up to 10kg.

“If you opt not to use Shepherd, always check that funds have cleared before handing over goods,” said Gumtree.

By Jan Vermeulen for MyBroadband

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