#76 CES 2019 Day 1 Recap: Air Taxis, Anthem Trailer, Gaming Monitors

Today we will be looking at the Bell Nexus Air Taxi, the Anthem trailer, new gaming monitors and more on the recap of CES 2019 day one.

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CES 2019 Day 1 Recap: All the Best New Tech

CES 2019 is in full swing, and the Tom’s Guide crew has hit the ground running in order to bring you the latest and greatest advancements in consumer tech this year. From TV screens that double as speakers, to smartwatches that never run out of juice, to gaming laptops that transform into desktop replacements, there’s something to tantalize just about every techie’s palate.

Even KitchenAid is making a Google Smart Display—and it’s water resistant

It’s CES week, and we have a new Google-powered smart display to talk about. A big feature of these smart displays is a visual and audio walkthrough of cooking recipes, and with Google’s platform open to third parties, it only makes sense that traditional kitchen appliance manufacturers would want to get in on the action, right? Enter the KitchenAid Smart Display, which takes all the features and functionality of Google’s smart display platform (reference the Google Home Hub and Lenovo Smart Display) and wraps it up with an appliance name that will feel right at home next to your mixer or refrigerator.

At CES 2019, Apple finally sets iTunes, AirPlay loose

Apple’s never had an official presence at CES, opting instead to host its own flashy events to launch its newest products. While Apple often has executives roaming around the massive electronics trade show floor, it doesn’t have a booth or host a press conference in Las Vegas. And it almost never releases news related to CES products, even though various companies will show off new speakers, cases and other products that work with iPhones and other Apple devices.

Anthem CES 2019 Trailer Released; NVIDIA Announces Support for Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS)

Check out the latest exclusive 4K Anthem gameplay revealed at our CES 2019 keynote! It features never-before seen Javelin, enemies, and environments. The team is happy to announce that DLSS is coming to Anthem thanks to the hard work of Bioware and NVIDIA. Be ready for the PC launch on February 22nd, 2019! For a limited time you can receive a free copy of Anthem with the purchase of select GeForce RTX graphics cards, laptops and PCs as part of our new Game On bundle

Instant Pot and Google Assistant get together at CES 2019

The Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi pressure cooker now works with Google Assistant, the kitchen device maker announced Monday at CES here in Las Vegas. The Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi cooker already lets you monitor and control it from the Instant Pot mobile app. Adding Google Assistant voice command functionality allows you to control and check the status of the cooker totally hands-free.

Samsung’s New TV Tech Is Mind-Bending But Why?

On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), there’s an itching feeling in the air that this year isn’t a big year for Samsung. The company unveiled (literally) a smaller version of last year’s big TV, the Wall, featuring MicroLED technology at an event in a ballroom. More than one person wondered, what’s the difference? The answer, awkwardly, is everything and nothing.

Uber partner reveals air taxi design at CES

Bell, one of Uber’s flying taxi partners, revealed the design of its vertical takeoff and landing air taxi at CES, a five-person hybrid-electric powered vehicle with six tilting ducted fans. The company showed off the cabin of its air taxi at CES last year, and this year, it’s debuting a scale model of the vehicle now dubbed the Bell Nexus.

Best gaming monitors of CES 2019

CES 2019 has been a bumper year for PC gamers, with plenty of new product announcements. It can be tricky to keep track of everything yourself, so we’ve rounded up all of the biggest headlines into dedicated articles – including this one, which looks at the most exciting gaming monitors to have been revealed at this year’s show.

 

Grab and Go: Grab Cars Are Now Convenience Stores Too

Grab wants to sell you snacks and beauty products while you take a ride.

Ride-hailing giant Grab has just partnered with US start-up Cargo to bring Grab&Go to Southeast Asia. The partnership allows Grab drivers sell a selection of items to passengers during their ride.

Grab announced the new service in a blog post and through emails to its subscribers.

“If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be able to help yourself to product samples like snack bars and beauty products absolutely free. You can also enjoy the convenience of buying an on-the-go refreshment or snack while you ride.”

Currently, Grab&Go has partnered with brands such as Kellogg’s, Biore UV, Novu and Unilever’s Lux Luminique for the free samples. Passengers are allowed to take home up to four complimentary products.

This latest offering is definitely a win-win for all. Brands get a new way to reach their customers, customers get free stuff, and the drivers earn extra income.

For each paid sale, drivers earn a 20% commission fee. They also earn a S$1 check-out bonus for every order from their Grab&Go box. Cargo claims that drivers can earn an $75-$250 per month through this.

Currently, the service is only available in Singapore. However, Grab tells TechCrunch that it will expand across Southeast Asia if this service is well-received. Grab serves 8 other countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

 

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Uber’s Air Taxi Could Become The Future of Commuting

Commuters might be flying to their offices and errands soon with Uber’s Air Taxi.

The ride-hailing company just unveiled new details about its upcoming air taxi services. And this time, Uber came with a prototype where CBS News got to see at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit.

Uber is aiming for 2020 to start running test flights in Dallas or Los Angeles. The company also plans to start commercial service as soon as 2023.

“We think cities are going to go vertical in terms of transportation and we want to make that a reality,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS News.

“We want to create the network around those vehicles so that regular people can take these taxis in the air for longer distances when they want to avoid traffic at affordable prices,” Khosrowshahi adds.

Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer, says the ride is meant to be community friendly. It will work similar to a helicopter with stacked rotors to create lift. However, it will be running on electricity and will have small propellers making it quieter.

At launch, the Uber Air Taxi will be piloted. Eventually, the company plans to make it autonomous.

Would you be willing to try this mode of transportation? Let us know!

 

UberAir: Flying Taxi Takes Off

Don’t get too excited yet about evading city traffic by flying in Uber taxi’s space-age like drones. Though Uber premiered its “flying car’ concept at the recent Elevate conference in L.A., the actual target launch of the aerial taxi service is still in 2023, a good five years from this sneak preview. Looking like an extremely light plane but functioning more like a helicopter, it has four rotors for lift and one at the rear for propulsion. Why so many rotors? It means that should one rotor fail, there are others that can operate and enable a safe landing for the four passengers and driver on board. Uber said that the rotor design where one is on top the other and rotating in the same direction results in quiet and better performance.

Flying at 1,000 – 2,000 feet at a speed of 150-200 miles per hour, it will land on sky ports and other landing sites that can accommodate passengers at the rate of 200 landings and take-offs per hour. Electric-powered with a single charge sufficient for a 60-mile radius, it will be piloted by humans initially. Eventually, Uber sees a future where the aerial taxis can fly on auto-pilot but this would depend on the public’s acceptance of the concept.

Uber’s flying taxi was broached in 2016 but it faces not just design issues but also engineering and regulatory concerns. It’s true that an autonomous, electric air taxi that can conveniently take off and land vertically, land from rooftop-rooftop is a Utopian shuttling goal, but it does face a very uncertain future. However, the mood of Uber’s manufacturing partners, Bell Helicopters, Embraer, and Pipistrel remains upbeat. In fact, way ahead of its competitors, Uber is already in talks with real estate firms to firm up its idea of skyports for its air taxi service. More significantly, Uber has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA for a new traffic control system that will enable Uber’s low-flying to be a commercial possibility.

The idea is not unique to Uber – although it has the upper hand at the moment. Already, Kitty Hawk owned by Google’s Larry Page, and the venerable Airbus and Boeing are testing the waters. It looks like, despite its woes in its Asian operations, Uber may yet rule the urban skies in the future.

Uber unveiled its flying taxi prototype, which looks like a giant drone from CNBC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uber Acquires Bike-Sharing Startup JUMP

Uber gets into the bike-sharing game with their acquisition of JUMP for an undisclosed amount.

The company may have withdrawn their presence in SouthEast Asia but it doesn’t mean they’re ready to slow down. Earlier this month, Uber purchased JUMP, a startup that offers dockless electric bicycles for rent.

According to TechCrunch’s sources, the final price of the acquisition is $200 million.

JUMP CEO Ryan Rzepecki told TechCrunch that their decision to sell is based on Uber’s ability to help them realise their vision at large scale. “I had a chance to spend a couple of evenings with him, and really talk through his vision for the business and our vision, and saw a lot of alignment.”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sees the partnership as a good opportunity to expand the company’s services. As cities get more and more congested, alternative modes of transportation are needed more than ever.

“We see the Uber app as moving from just being about car sharing and car hailing to really helping the consumer get from A to B in the most affordable, most dependable, most convenient way,” Khosrowshahi said. “And we think e-bikes are just a spectacularly great product.”

The bikes from JUMP features a motor that help boost riders on inclines. It costs $2 for a 30-minute ride.

Once done, the bikes can be locked on any public rack. You can also leave them locked on “furniture zone” of sidewalks. This is the area where light poles, utility poles and benches are positioned.

 

 

Uber and Waymo Made a Settlement Regarding Self-Driving

Uber and Waymo settled on self-driving

Uber and Waymo came to a settlement over claims that Uber stole trade secrets from the self-driving company. The settlement money caused Uber to give Waymo a 0.34 percent Uber stake. That is amounting to approximately $245m.

The company also agreed to never use Waymo’s technology in its self-driving cars. Although they insisted that they never did.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive felt regret on how their company handled the issue. In a statement, he said to Waymo, “While we won’t agree on everything going forward, we agree that Uber’s acquisition of Otto could and should have been handled differently.”

Otto was a self-driving trucking company co-founded by former Google employee Anthony Levandowski. In 2016, Uber acquired it for $650m.

The deal came four days after Travis Kalanick, former Uber chief executive, took the stand in San Francisco federal court. He was accused of plotting a plan to steal 14,000 confidential files from Waymo. Those files were acquired when the firm was still a part of Google. But now, it is already owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

The jury was shown internal emails referencing demands from Mr. Kalanick. He wanted “pound of flesh” from Google. Mr. Kalanick said that he used the phrase from “time to time”.

A visitor’s pass for Mr. Levandowski was also used as an evidence. The pass was dated at a time he was still working at Google.

Uber’s defense was that there was no proof they had used any of the disputed secrets in their technology.

Mr. Khosrowshahi said, “We do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber.”

He added, “Nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work.”

Details of the secrets were not made public, however, it was discussed in closed sessions in front of the jury.

Waymo sought damages against Uber which could have totaled more than $1 billion or an injuction.

SoftBank Is Now Uber’s Largest Shareholder as Deal Closes

On Thursday, Softbank Group Corp. led by a group of investors closed a deal with Uber Technologies Inc, making them the largest stakeholder in the ride-services firm and also to boost Uber from controversies.

An Uber spokesman said, the deal includes a large purchase of shares from other Uber investors and employees at a very discounted price. A 30 percent price drop from $68 billion to $48 billion. These secondary stock sales will be completed by the end of the day Thursday on the Nasdaq Private Market.

The investor group, which is co-led by Softbank and Dragoneer Investment Group and also included Sequoia Capital completed a $1.25 billion investment of fresh cash at the other, higher evaluation, added by the spokesman.

Softbank will have a 15 percent-share while the other investors summed up will only have 17.5 percent making the Softbank as the company’s largest shareholder. This will also result to the adding of new board members that must take effect immediately.

“This is a great outcome for our shareholders, employees and customers, strengthening Uber’s governance as we double down our technology investment and continue to bring our services to more people in more places around the world,” said by the Uber spokesman.

The closing of the deal gave them a closure of their months-long process fraught with infighting among board members.

Uber has been under controversies for some time now. From the lawsuit case for the co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick to remove him from the board by a new but large investor, the Benchmark Capital to the controversies including the federal criminal probes, a massive data breach and a lawsuit claiming trade secrets theft.

The board first voted to move on with the Softbank investment last October but it seemed to have a problem but last month, Uber announced to move forward because some stock holders gave way and sell their shares to Softbank.

The deal comprises of the expansion of Uber’s board members, from 11 to 17 with four independent directors that may limit some to have a voting power.

Also, the Benchmark agreed to stop the lawsuit against Kalanick upon the completion of the deal.

This big news gave Uber a positive and fresh start to 2018.

Uber Company Tries to Rebuild Love With Its Drivers

Uber Company: Rebuilding Love

The Uber company has been known for its “Cultural Values” for the past few years. But we also know about the controversy that it has undergone.

It used to have its so-called cultural values posted on their walls. But lately, those values were replaced by pictures of Uber drivers with their motto.

The controversial removal of its co-founder slash CEO was a big blow for the company which would need time to heal.

Uber is now doing a major damage control and mends its relationship with its drivers.

As we all know,Uber drivers have been complaining about lower pay, longer working hours and little to no support.

They’ve done various things to show their protests but to no avail. They filed lawsuits and even quit driving.

But Uber’s very existence relies on its drivers. They are the company’s lifeblood.

A representative from the company said that they are doing something. They are re-examining everything in order to rebuild the love between the company and its employees.

 

Uber: Commuting Honeymoon Over?

Uber, the transport company was every commuter’s and traveler’s dream. Seen as the better alternative to taxis, Uber promised a comfortable ride at your beck and call, anytime and anywhere. Using the Uber app, you can just hop in, and arrive at your destination in over 72 countries safely and comfortably. No more hailing cabs in the rain or elbowing out other commuters during peak hours!

Simple and seamless travel, from booking to paying made its growth over the last seven years phenomenal. In response to customer needs, Uber now offers ride-sharing, self-driving, pre-scheduled trips, and courier delivery for food and packages. Far from charging premium rates, Uber does what its slogan promises,”get there” at reasonable costs.

“When you make transportation as reliable as running water, everyone benefits.”                                                                                                                  – UBER

Its app is a universal language across borders and cultures – just tap your destination and you don’t even have to exchange a word with the driver during the whole trip! Features like fare estimate, split fare and send status make it more convenient than regular taxis. The driver profile makes travelers feel safer, even on foreign soil.

 

Trouble in Paradise

Despite the controversies that led to the resignation of its CEO and co-founder, Travis Kalanick, Uber continues to operate profitably in 632 cities and dominates the U.S. market with 80% share. After giving up China with its numerous roadblocks, it foresees potential growth in Southeast Asia and India where people are predicted to favor convenience over low car acquisition rates. But the honeymoon is clearly over with Uber’s popularity dipping, even as it continues to expand aggressively.

Given the thumbs up by passengers does not mean that drivers are happy about the low rates the company set to keep upfront fees competitive. To make matters worse in the early part of the year, about 200,000 passengers disenchanted with Uber’s close ties with President Trump opted out. Scandals like: bad treatment of drivers, CEO outbursts, the threatened pullout of the Uber app from the Apple app store due to irregularities, loss of $700M in revenue are eclipsed by its non-disclosure of data hacking affecting 57M passengers and drivers more than a year after it was discovered in October 2016.

Why Passengers Choose Uber

Passengers have sworn loyalty to the Uber brand despite the company lapses.

“Uber was convenient and a sure ride during surge hours. Upfront fees make it easy to stick to a budget. Service is consistent and Uber is always my first choice when going overseas for business or pleasure. No worries about leaving valuables behind!”  – Sarah E., Manager of an IT company

“Cars are new and drivers are courteous. In Lisbon, rates were super cheap and always available. It was good in L.A. but expensive. Seattle had better rates and made it safe to travel at night. Portland was expensive so I took the train instead. Madrid was fun though the drivers spoke very little English. They were very accommodating in Madrid and Portugal. Best of all, I didn’t have to worry about currency exchange since I could use my credit card.”                                    -Karla, Blogger (Karla Around the World)

It does seem to be the company to beat and still heads and shoulders over Lyft and Grab, its erstwhile competitors. But its loss of about 55M web visits and fall to #3 as the most searched company serves as a wake-up call. That said, Uber’s reign is far from over.

Uber map by Laurenellen McCann