1. Uber Returns after Fatal Crash
After a fatal crash last March, Uber was forced to take their self-driving cars off the road. This was the first known pedestrian death caused by a vehicle in full autonomous mode. “Over the past nine months, we’ve made safety core to everything we do,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber’s autonomous-vehicle program, said. “This required a lot of introspection and took some time. Now we are ready to move forward.” As these cars will be put back on the roads in San Francisco and Toronto, they will not be going fully autonomous yet, two test drivers will be in the seats, and they will make sure the automatic emergency braking system will be activated at all times. Meanwhile, former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski is making moves with his company, Pronto.AI. He has just returned from a 3,099-mile journey finished in 4 days, claiming he didn’t touch the self-driving Toyota Prius’ wheel once, only for bathroom breaks and naps. If these claims are true, this will the longest recorded journey of a fully “hands-free” autonomous vehicle.
2. Timed Lockboxes for Phones
Ever been on a vacation from your phone while on a vacation? It might seem mind-boggling but in an effort to help cure FOMO, resorts are offering perks to those who can say au revoir to their smartphones for a few hours. Some resorts even have phone-free hours at the pool and others are eliminating phone use altogether. A few hotels are urging guests to place their phone in timed lockboxes, which staff can only unlock in exchange for a snorkeling tour or a s’mores night. 1 in 4 smartphone users spend more than 7 hours per day on their smartphones, and 78% of teens check their devices hourly. Wyndham Hotels realized they had a problem when they had to order more beach chairs to accommodate those loitering in chairs staring at their phones. Hotels and resorts may lose out on all the publicity from social media, however, they’re trying to solve a bigger issue like wellness and relaxation, hoping guests will return after having a positive experience. Can you do it?
(Source: NBC News)
3. Auto Rates Based on Driving Habits
Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), a company that uses smartphone data to analyze how well individuals drive, just revved in $500M from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. The vision? To track how well (or bad) someone drives and try to make them better drivers, while making the roads safer overall. The data is then used by insurance providers to measure driving performance, incentivize driving quality and lower operating costs by reducing crash rates. For example, Boston’s Safest Driver app was created in partnership with CMT, which provides feedback on your driving based on speed, acceleration, braking, cornering, and phone distraction.
They even take it one step further by showcasing achievements, holding competitions against friends and family and ranking your score on a 1-100 scale, all to incentivize drivers to be safer. According to CMT, those who use their app, see an average reduction of 35% in phone distraction, 20% in hard braking, and 20% in at-risk speeding. Being the first service to effectively collect phone data for auto insurance, there are currently several million users across 20 global countries.