Weekly Brief: BMW takes on Uber and Lyft in ride-hailing

ReachNow will offer car-sharing and ride-hailing through the same app interface. Andrew Tolve reports.

BMW is ready to take on the big guns. In its latest urban mobility gambit, its ReachNow car-sharing service in Seattle will now operate as a ride-hailing outfit as well. That makes ReachNow the first company in the world to operate both car sharing and ride hailing from the same application and puts it into direct competition with Uber and Lyft.

To compete, ReachNow will do away with surge pricing, commonplace on other ride-hailing apps, and allow riders perks like the ability to control the environment in their ride, whether with requested quiet time or preselected temperature and radio stations. ReachNow drivers will use cars in the existing ReachNow car-sharing fleet and will get paid on an hourly basis and receive benefits, unlike Uber and Lyft drivers. ReachNow says it’s looking to expand the service to other cities once the Seattle pilot is up and rolling.

In other news, INRIX unveiled a new autonomous vehicle platform called AV Road Rules that allows cities and road authorities to communicate directly with autonomous vehicle operators. Authorities can now quickly and easily digitize local restrictions such as speed limits, crosswalks, school zones and stop signs. As a result, autonomous vehicles can comply with local restrictions without having to rely on physical road signage that may be faded or non-existent and which sensors may struggle to accurately interpret.

At launch, seven cities and road authorities and four HAV operators have signed on to support INRIX AV Road Rules. The initial set of pilot users includes Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Cambridge MA; Portland, ME; Las Vegas, NV; Transport for West Midlands and Transport Scotland in the UK. Automakers and operators scheduled to use the platform at launch include Jaguar Land Rover, May Mobility, nuTonomy and operators running Renovo’s Aware platform.

Elektrobit launched a new service, EB cadian Sync, that allows carmakers to offer “upgradeable” vehicles equipped with the hardware needed for a variety of connected features. Consumers are, thus, able to keep their infotainment systems up to date and activate specific software functionalities after the car is purchased or for a special occasion. For example, drivers on a road trip can activate Adaptive Cruise Control. Elektrobit is partnering with ARGUS Cyber Security on the solution.

Waymo revealed that its vehicles are now logging 25,000 miles every single day and have doubled their total mileage from four million to eight million total miles on public roads in the last eight months. That’s an impressive statistic given that its fleet only includes 600 Chrysler Pacific Minivans. Waymo also revealed that it has put its software through nearly five billion miles of simulated driving.

Czech automaker Škoda made a strategic investment in Israeli high-tech start-up Anagog, which develops technology in the field of artificial intelligence. Škoda plans to use the technology to develop new mobility solutions that presumably can learn about customer preferences through time and channel big data to deliver personalized recommendations and results. The two companies will partner out of Škoda Auto’s DigiLab in Israel.
Finally, Daimler is opening a new location to its innovation hub, called Lab1886, in Atlanta, Georgia. The lab plans to hire about 25 employees in the coming six months to get working on innovative solutions to urban mobility challenges. The lab will partner with local businesses and academic institutions with the goal of implementing new solutions as quickly and unconventionally as possible.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU-Automotive analysis with information from industry sources.


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