Weekly Brief: Uber Jump’s into entire transportation ecosystem

Uber prepares itself for an IPO with a broader focus on urban transportation. Andrew Tolve reports.

It was a strange week for Uber. First, the ride-hailing giant reportedly spent north of $100M (£70.2M) to purchase an electric bike sharing company called Jump. Next, the company launched a car rental pilot in San Francisco called Uber Rent, by way of a new partnership with Getaround. Finally, Uber inked a deal with London mobile ticketing company Masabi, which makes it easy to purchase tickets for public transportation on your smartphone. What on earth is going on here?

One reading would be that the company is losing focus on its core competency – ride-sharing – and that, in doing so, could yield further market share to the likes of Lyft, Didi and Grab. Another, more favourable reading would be that the company is finally realising what it really wants to be: a central hub and facilitator for modern transportation, no matter what form that might take. Want to bike to work? Open Uber. Want to beat the traffic on the subway? Open Uber. Want to rent a car for the weekend, hail a quick ride downtown, or order take-in for dinner? Open Uber.

“We’re committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahiin a blog post announcing the deals, “so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you’re going, whether that’s in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more.” That’s a big shift for the company and it may pay dividends down the road as it looks toward an IPO in 2019.

In other news, Honda announced that it will make its advanced driver assistance package, Honda Sensing, standard across its entire line-up come 2022. Honda Sensing includes forward collision warnings, lane keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control. Honda has already sold more than a million vehicles with Honda Sensing in the US.

Volkswagen revealed that it’s working on a fully autonomous parking solution to be integrated into production vehicles in 2020. The system works using pictorial markers mounted in car parks that vehicle sensors use for orientation. The company is currently conducting a pilot with the technology in a multi-storey car park at the Hamburg Airport, with Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles. It’s also experimenting with add-on services while cars are parked, such as parcel and laundry delivery and electric charging for EVs.

Waymo is on track to be the first company to test fully driverless cars on Californian roads without safety drivers behind the wheel. Last week we reported that California would accept applications for fully driverless cars on public roads, despite the recent Uber pedestrian death in Arizona and the Tesla Autopilot fatality in California the week prior. Waymo wasted no time in expressing its interest; the company wants to start trials near its Mountain View headquarters.

Moovel, Daimler’s mobility start-up, launched FareShare, an app that allows riders to access transit benefits, reduced fares and discounted tickets from their mobile devices. The goal is to increase ridership on public transportation and streamline ticketing, all while helping riders save money and time. The app is launching in the US and is available to transit agencies, employers and universities.

Finally, Google is rolling out a new wireless version of its popular Android Auto interface. Here’s the catch: the new wireless version will only work if you have a Nexus or Pixel smartphone, if you’re vehicle sports Android Auto v3.1 and if your smartphone is running Android Oreo. If you qualify, congratulations! You can throw out your cable.
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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