Lyft partners with Google's Waymo to launch self-driving cars and challenge Uber

The Independent - Tech

US ride services company Lyft and Google parent Alphabet's self-driving car unit Waymo have launched a self-driving vehicle partnership, bringing together two rivals to dominant ride-sharing service Uber. Lyft, the No. 2 US ride service by ride volume, in a statement said a deal to launch self-driving pilots would accelerate its vision for transportation and Waymo, which is beginning tests of a self-driving car service in Phoenix, said the partnership would let its technology reach "more people, in more places". Neither offered many details of the agreement, which was reported earlier by The New York Times. The car industry and technology companies are racing to develop self-driving technology, which they expect in a number of years will transform transportation, cutting costs of ride services and changing the way people buy and use cars. Uber is the biggest US ride service by volume and has been developing self-driving technology, which it sees as a key to its future, as it expands its ride service with human drivers.


Southern rail dispute reflects workers' growing fears about rise of automation

The Guardian

Trains with a guard become driver-only trains, which then become driverless trains. That's the fear underlying Aslef's dispute with Southern railways and accounts for the rearguard action to prevent further job losses across the rail industry. There is also scorn for Southern's management, which has attacked drivers' basic terms and conditions, and there is anger at transport secretary Chris Grayling's anti-union stance. But, at its heart, the dispute is over the status and even the very existence of the job of train driver, which has been around for nigh on 200 years. Like most people, train drivers will have read the screaming headlines warning of a robot revolution that spells the end for millions of jobs.


Rail travellers could pay for train journey by finger print or iris scan under new plans

The Independent - Tech

The rail industry has come up with a plan that may as well be out of a science-fiction movie to cope with growing demand and overcrowding: charging rail passengers for journeys by fingerprint or iris scan. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the organisation representing train operators and Network Rail, claims biometric technology would enable fares to be automatically charged marking the start of an era that could radically accelerate commute times. The technology represents the next step from travellers being able to us smartphones' Bluetooth signals to open station barriers. That will be trialled on Chiltern Railways' route between London Marylebone and Oxford Parkway over the coming months. The use of digital signalling technology will also allow trains to operate closer together, cutting delay, according to the RDG.


Uber to end its services in Denmark over new taxi regulations

The Independent - Tech

Uber has announced that it is shuttering operation in Denmark in April as a result of new taxi laws, marking the latest setback for the US-based ride hailing company. The Danish government in February, passed a reform changing regulations for taxis, following pressure from local taxi driver unions. The new law requires mandatory fare meters in cabs and seat occupancy detectors to activate the airbags. Uber, which says it has 2,000 drivers and 300,000 people using its app in Denmark, said it would not be able to operate unless the regulations were changed. It will officially end its activities in the country on 18 April.


Driverless cars, drones and spaceport to feature in Queen's speech

The Guardian

Driverless cars, drones and a proposed first commercial spaceport for the UK will feature in the Queen's speech. The Department for Transport has said such cutting-edge technologies are crucial to the country's economy and that its proposals, to be unveiled on Wednesday, will help deliver jobs. Legislation will be introduced to enable driverless cars, already trialled in the UK, to be insured under ordinary policies. The government has said that the spaceport will be constructed by the end of the current parliament. The self-driving car market is currently growing at 16% a year and could be worth up to 900bn worldwide by 2025, while the port is part of the government's plan to raise revenues in the space sector from 12bn to 40bn by 2030, which would mean capturing about 10% of the sector worldwide.