Weekly Brief: London switches off hire lamp light on Uber

Uber could lose its toehold in one of the most important capital cities in the world. Andrew Tolve reports.

London’s transport authority, Transport for London, dropped the axe on Uber last week when it announced that the ridesharing giant’s private hire operator licence would not be renewed after September 30th. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations to maintain their licenses in London — regulations that Uber has failed to meet and then some. Among the alleged offences are Uber’s total disregard for reporting serious criminal offences among drivers, its approach to how medical certificates are obtained and its use of Greyball software that can block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

Uber is expected to appeal the decision and can continue operating until that process concludes. If the TfL’s decision is ultimately upheld, it will be a big win for London’s black cab drivers who have seen their wages plummet in recent years as Uber drivers have swollen to nearly twice their number on London streets. Roughly 40,000 Uber drivers would be forced to find new jobs and Londoners would lose a more affordable, if arguably less safe, way to cab around their city. It’s possible that if Uber manages to raise outrage among consumers, it could force the TfL’s hand in the appeal process. Otherwise, Uber’s epically bad 2017 will continue and the floodgates will open for its ridesharing competitors.

In other news, BlackBerry landed a prize for its automotive division when it secured a partnership with Delphi. BlackBerry QNX will provide the operating system for Delphi’s autonomous driving system with the goal of bolstering safety and performance across the autonomous driving ecosystem. Delphi is building the low-cost platform for Intel and Mobileye and plans to bring it to market in 2019.

Chinese search giant Baidu announced a $1.5Bn (£1.1Bn) fund to spur innovation in the field of self-driving cars. The Apollo Fund will invest in 100 autonomous driving projects in the next three years. The Baidu announcement coincided with the release of Apollo 1.5, the latest iteration of the company’s open-source autonomous driving platform.

Car electronics supplier Pioneer and mapping company HERE announced a capital alliance that will see each invest €17.3M (£15.3) in each other. That means HERE will now own 3% of Pioneer and its mapping subsidiary Increment P Corporation and Pioneer will own less than 1% of HERE. The capital alliance is intended to solidify a strategic collaboration between the two companies that supports innovations in the areas of in-vehicle infotainment and autonomous driving. Upon completion, Pioneer will join Audi, BMW, Daimler and Intel as shareholders in HERE.

Intel revealed that it’s been a stalwart partner of Google’s self-driving car project from its early days and that Intel tech has been on-board for the more than three million miles of real-world driving that Waymo cars have logged on US roads. Intel supplies Waymo with a custom silicon for processing and ethernet, “enabling real-time decisions for full autonomy in city conditions”, according to Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich. The newest Waymo Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans have Intel-based tech under the hood.

Fordis teaming up with Mahindra, a sports utility vehicle specialist in India, to explore mobility programs, connected vehicle projects and electrification. The partnership will mostly focus on the Indian market, although some of the programmes and services that come out of it could be taken global. Mahindra made a splash last week for its new self-driving tractor that’s due out in 2018.

Finally, DEKRA is nearing completion on a connected car test and certification area in Malaga, Spain. The 50,000 m² facility will focus specifically on vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, allowing manufacturers to research, develop, test and certify technologies like intersection movement assist, green light optimal speed advisory and work zone warnings. The test area will also provide cyber security evaluations for the connected car.

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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