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Hello friends and first readers. Welcome back to The Station, a newsletter covering all current and future ways that people and packages get from point A to point B. I am your host, Kirsten Korosec, chief transport reporter at theinformationsuperhighway.
Let's get to that right away.
Remember to contact me and email email@example.com to share thoughts, criticism, opinions or tips. You can also send me a direct message on Twitter – @kirstenkorosec.
Micromobbin is usually the shooting range of Megan Rose Dickey. You have to take care of me this week.
A few stories about micromobility caught my attention this week, mainly because they address two issues that evolved in 2020: consolidation and development and use of technologies to solve challenges with a single economy, regulations, and market share.
In the first place bird, which launched a new standalone app called Bird Maps in Paris and Tel Aviv. Bird Maps, which was created with the navigation software of the Israeli startup Trailze, offers turn-by-turn navigation for drivers who want to use bicycle or micro-mobility traces throughout their journey. The app is just a pilot for now. But it could stay and become available in other cities if it succeeds in attracting more customers and soothing cities that are fed up with the chaos and overload of the sidewalk from scooter abuse.
Speaking of scooter chaos, the start of micromobility docking Swiftmile and remote controlled start of the repositioning of the scooter turtle have teamed up to solve two vulnerabilities: overloading the sidewalk and charging the equipment.
Swiftmile and Tortoise share many of the same customers. The idea is that Tortoise repositioning technology is used to direct scooters (from companies they have done business with) to a Swiftmile docking station. The system could keep motor scooters longer and in better shape on roads (they tend to suffer more wear when companies rely on gig workers to load the products). It could also resolve tensions with cities looking for a solution to the unsightly scene of thrown scooters lying on sidewalks.
Another noteworthy tech-centered story is about Stud mobility, a company I am more interested in because they have optimized their business model. The startup was co-founded by the sprinter of Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt and is now managed by Julia Steyn, who was formerly the managing director of GM's now-defunct Maven car sharing service.
Bolt recently expanded to Japan and New York City. This week it was restarted in Portland with Bolt One, a scooter with forward-facing footrests, double brakes, 10-inch wheels, LED lights and replaceable batteries with a range of 40 km.
Two objects appeared on me. First, the company attached NanoSeptic surfaces to the handlebars and brake levers, the two main contact points of a scooter. NanoSeptic has self-cleaning technology that is activated by light to free surfaces of germs and bacteria, the company told theinformationsuperhighway.
In Portland, the company works with local entrepreneur Timothy Robinson to manage its local operations. Robinson will deploy a local team to level, charge, and repair scooters as needed to ensure availability across the city.
Bolt Mobility tells me that partnering with a local business owner is a new approach. "With their local knowledge, we believe they can best serve cities and their unique transportation needs," the company told me in an email.
Finally, we turn to Jump, which Uber outsourced to Lime as part of a complex fundraising deal. You may remember that Uber sent thousands of jump bikes and scooters to the junkyard in the United States for recycling. Several sources indicated that Lime would only accept unused jump bikes.
Attention then turned to Europe, and industry observers and competitors were waiting to see if jump bikes would suffer the same fate in these markets. This week, Lime completed the acquisition of Uber's micro-mobility subsidiary Jump in Europe. And as we've seen in the U.S., jump bikes and scooters have disappeared from the streets of London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, and other European cities.
Jump bikes and scooters are now sitting in camps waiting for Lime to either reinsert them or throw them away.
offer of the week
COVID-19 could be the thread that runs through every business trend in 2020. In the middle of the year, one topic is the conviction that it is worth relying on delivery in the short and long term.
Take DoorDash, the popular American food company, and my deal of the week. The company raised around $ 400 million in a Series H round on a valuation that was slightly below the $ 16 billion mark. The round was expected, although it is worth noting that the deal's final valuation was $ 1 billion higher than previously reported.
DoorDash has aggressively raised capital throughout its life, including a huge Series G in late 2019 that was worth nearly $ 13 billion. So that you don't forget, the company applied for a private IPO earlier this year. These plans have probably been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic uncertainty that is spreading further.
The question then is, where is DoorDash going from here? The company is at war with the Uber Eats service, the Postmates delivery service and the Grubhub-Just Eat takeaway hybrid. It is also facing litigation with San Francisco. The SF District Attorney initiated a lawsuit against DoorDash on June 16 about allegations that employees were illegally classified as independent contractors. Comments from SF DA Chesa Boudin indicate that the city is ready for a lengthy struggle.
"I assure you this is just the first step among many to fight for workers' safety and equal enforcement," Boudin tweeted this week.
This means that capital requirements do not subside so quickly. Also, there is never a risk of consolidation – or an opportunity, depending on where you sit.
We know that Uber, who is still convinced of his failed purchase contract for Grubhub, wants to expand the market share of his Eats grocery business. Uber has said that he believes consolidation is a path to profitability. It also says, "It doesn't mean that we're interested in making a deal with every player, at all costs."
DoorDash, loaded with a new capital injection, could bypass private investors and a fusion game and opt for door # 3: public markets. Companies such as Nikola Motor and Vroom have recently made the leap in their core businesses despite poor economic efficiency.
Other offers that caught our attention …
MapillaryThe startup, which has developed a street-level image platform that automates and scales mapping using Computer Vision, has been taken over by Facebook. The Mapillary team and project will be part of Facebook's broader open mapping effort, Steve O’Hear of theinformationsuperhighway said. I followed Mapillary because its platform can be used in the transportation sector, especially in the development of autonomous vehicles. Jan Erik Solem, the founder of Mapillary, is a bit on the move. Solem launched Mapillary 2014 after the sale of his first computer vision company to Apple. You can find more information about the company in this Solem blog post.
SuperAnnotate is an interesting little startup that started in February. The company, which has just raised $ 3 million in seed capital, developed an image annotation platform to identify teams and data scientists. Basically, it created a toolkit a simple communication system for manual marking, enhancement of recognition, image status tracking, templates, dashboards and other important tools. SuperAnnotate is one of these “picks and shovels” companies. I use this term to describe companies that are willing to make a lot of money to provide tools for the autonomous automotive industry. However, this platform has applications that go beyond AVs and can also be used in Robotics, retail, satellite imagery, security and medical imaging.
SplytThe UK-based company, which developed hail simplification software, raised $ 19.5 million in a round led by SoftBank. Splyt raised a total of $ 35 million.
Volkswagen invested another $ 200 million in QuantumScape, a Stanford University spin-out that develops solid-state batteries as the automaker relies on next-generation technology that enables longer ranges and faster charging times in electric vehicles.
Israeli startup CENSwho have nanotechnology to improve the
The performance of batteries in electric vehicles, drones and solar energy storage brought in $ 1.5 million in a round led by British investor Vincent Tchenguiz from the Consensus Group.
The City of Fort Worth approved a $ 68.9 million economic incentive package for Linear laboratories, a startup that develops an electric motor for cars, scooters, robots, wind turbines and even HVAC systems. The company plans to secure a 500,000 square meter facility for its research and production center that will produce electric motors. The four-year-old company was founded by Brad and Fred Hunstable, who said they invented a lighter, more flexible electric motor. The couple developed the motor, which they called Hunstable Electric Turbine (HET), while they were working on developing a device that could pump clean water and power small communities in underdeveloped regions of the world.
BYD Co., the Chinese auto giant sponsored by Warren Buffett, secured 800 million yuan ($ 113 million) in a Series A + round for its chip maker BYD Semiconductor.
GoFor Industries, a Canadian startup that has developed an on-demand last mile delivery service for the construction industry, raised start-up capital of $ 9.8 million.
DumplingsThe Seattle and Berkeley, California-based startup raised $ 6.5 million in the Series A funding round led by Forerunner Ventures. The startup helps users launch and operate independent grocery shopping and delivery businesses.
Bitauto Holdings Ltd., the Chinese auto comparison website, agreed to be privatized for $ 1.1 billion in cash per Reuters by an investor group backed by the gaming and social media company Tencent Holdings.
TriEye, an Israeli startup working on sensor technology that helps driver assistance and self-driving systems see better in bad weather conditions, announced a collaboration with DENSO to evaluate its CMOS-based shortwave infrared camera called Sparrow. Porsche, which acquired a minority stake in TriEye last year, is also evaluating the Sparrow camera.
This is more of an infrastructure game, but still interesting. ECOncrete, an Israeli startup that has developed environmentally friendly concrete technology for the construction of breakwaters, sea walls and pillars, raised $ 5 million in a round led by Bridges Israel. The technology investment house Goldacre also took part in the round. ECOncrete part of the company's Proplech cohort RElab 2020 – the accelerator program.
And under the category "lol" …
hertzThe company, which filed for bankruptcy last month, closed its $ 500 million stock offer after the U.S. regulators informed the rental company that it would review its controversial plan to sell shares, which would soon be complete could be wiped out. I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked.
Hertz had planned to issue a $ 500 million share offer to the Delaware district after approval by the United States Bankruptcy Court. Last week, the Hertz court granted permission to sell up to 246.8 million unspent shares (approximately $ 1 billion) to Jefferies LLC.
Layoffs, breakdowns and people
Before we get to the layoffs, the end of a long-term alliance between BMW and Mercedes Benz AG to develop the next generation of automated driving technology should be mentioned.
The agreement was announced just 11 months ago. And now it's broken. The German automakers called the separation "mutual and consensual" and have agreed to concentrate on their existing development paths. These new paths can include working with new or current partners.
The partnership should never be exclusive. However, it was interesting because it reflected the increasingly widespread approach of older manufacturers to conclude loose development agreements to share the capital-intensive work of developing, testing, and validating automated driving technologies.
BMW also announced that it would cut 6,000 jobs in an agreement with the German works council. The cutbacks triggered by sluggish sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are reportedly being achieved through early retirement, non-renewal of fixed-term contracts, termination of layoffs, and job vacancies, Marketwatch reported.
To grabSoutheast Asia's largest ride hail startup fires around 360 employees, or a little less than 5% of its employees. A Grab spokesman told theinformationsuperhighway that the company will not close offices and that this is the last organization-wide layoff that the company will conduct this year. Grab will bring some "non-core projects" to a standstill, consolidate functions, and reduce team size. In addition, more resources are being reallocated to the on-demand delivery lines.
Volvo Group cuts 4,100 employees worldwide and about 15% of the cuts will be contractors per cargo wave.
redundancies started a severance tracker. The website states that of the 500 startups with layoffs, 10 offered severance pay for more than 8 weeks and extended health insurance for more than 4 months.
A little bird
We hear and see things, but we are not selfish. We share!
I went to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website and it showed up. It appears that the autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora has requested a USDOT number from the FMCSA. I noticed this because companies that operate commercial vehicles that transport goods on highways must be registered with the FMCSA and have a USDOT number.
It appears that Aurora has not yet received approval according to the submission. This should be seen as the first step and illustrates Aurora's previously stated intentions to develop technologies for self-driving trucks.
Notable readings and other delicacies
There is a lot to report here …
Uber said it would manage an on-demand service for Marin County in San Francisco Bay with a software as a service product as part of the hail company's broader strategy for public transportation.
The Marin transportation authority (TAM) pays Uber a subscription fee for using its management software to facilitate requesting, matching, and tracking of its busy fleet of vehicles, starting with a service that runs along the Highway 101 corridor. Marin Transit trips are displayed in the Uber app and allow users to book and even share trips.
This is remarkable in that the deal represents Uber's first SaaS partnership and is a likely path into the future. Keep in mind that Uber recently dumped its Jump micro-mobility unit in a deal with Lime and reshaped its strategy since the COVID 19 pandemic. Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, said during the company's recent earnings call that the company is focused on growing Eats, grocery business, and public transportation.
ford will offer a hands-free function from the second half of 2021, starting with the new Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle. The hands-free function, called Active Drive Assist, is part of a larger package of advanced driver assistance functions, which are collectively referred to as the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package. The hands-free function has been expected since the Mustang Mach-E, whose drive monitoring system is located above the steering wheel, was launched last year.
National Authority for Road Traffic and Safety presented the AV TEST initiative for automated vehicle transparency and commitment to safe testing this week. Those who test automated vehicles can now voluntarily send information to NHTSA. The announcement included nine companies and eight countries that signed up as first participants.
Lucid Motors will begin producing its luxury electric vehicle for customers at its new Arizona plant in early 2021, about three months later than expected as COVID-19 is causing a slowdown.
The company, which plans to launch a production version of the Lucid Air at an online event scheduled for September 9, announced that construction work at its Casa Grande, Arizona, facility had resumed a few weeks ago and was in its first phase Year should be completed. Lucid Motors has also resumed vehicle development work at its California facility, which was delayed due to on-site orders.
Lyft said every car, truck, and SUV on its platform will be fully electric or powered by some other emission-free technology by 2030. This obliges the company to persuade drivers to turn away from gas-powered vehicles. It is important to note that after a few waffles, Lyft finally answered my question and confirmed that it does not prohibit drivers on its platform from driving a gas powered vehicle. The company told me that they didn't think this step was necessary.
The goal that Lyft intends to pursue with the help of the Environmental Defense Fund and other partners will span multiple programs. These include the company's autonomous vehicles, the Express Drive rental car partner program for ridesharing drivers, consumer rental cars for drivers, and private cars that drivers use in the Lyft app. This private car category will be difficult.
MIT Center for Transport and Logistics and the Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center published DriveSeg, a new open data set that is intended to help accelerate autonomous driving research. The data set contains representations at the pixel level through the lens of a continuous driving scene, so that researchers can identify more amorphous objects that do not always have uniform shapes. It is free and can be used by researchers and the academic community for non-commercial purposes.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans to bring a $ 1.5 trillion infrastructure bill called the Moving Forward Act. Most of the bill, which Pelosi said will be introduced before the July 4 break, comes from democratically passed laws that are currently going through the house and approve $ 494 million for five years for roads, bridges, and transit programs would. It also includes $ 25 billion for drinking water, $ 100 billion for broadband, $ 70 billion for clean energy projects, $ 100 billion for low-income schools, and $ 30 billion for modernization Hospitals, $ 100 billion for social housing funding and $ 25 billion for Hill Postal Service reported.
Motor trend has a great piece about the experience of the black driver and how it has evolved since the Jim Crow era and not.
GM published a schedule to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its GM research and development department. It's an entertaining journey into the past and includes the 1964 Electrovair, which was developed to test the viability of electric power for passenger cars.