Sacramento could be among first to test fleet of self-driving vehicles

By Tony Bizjak – October 26, 2016

Self-driving robot cars will be coming soon to the streets of American cities. Exactly when is uncertain. But Sacramento city transportation officials are taking steps now to be ready when the revolution rolls in.

Sacramento will be among 16 select cites meeting next month to discuss ways to harness new technologies, including autonomous vehicles, as part of a new national study effort called the Smart Cities Collaborative.

“We definitely see the future of autonomous vehicles and want to wrap our arms around it and make sure it is safe and equitable for the city of Sacramento,” city planner Fedolia Harris said. “We want to
Read the full article…

Uber-owned driverless truck delivers 50,000 cans of beer

By Melanie Zanona – 10/25/16 02:07 PM EDT

A self-driving truck loaded with 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer has made its first delivery without a driver behind the wheel.

Uber teamed up with Anheuser-Busch InBev for the delivery, which the companies say is the first-ever commercial shipment made by a driverless truck, according to Bloomberg News.

The tractor-trailer drove 120 miles down a preprogrammed route on Colorado’s I-25 highway with a police vehicle traveling behind it. The truck’s human driver remained in the sleeper cab during the journey.

Uber acquired Otto, an autonomous trucking company, this summer as part of the ride-hailing firm’s aggressive push to expand its business.

Although self-driving trucking is still
Read the full article…

When your driverless car crashes, who will be responsible? The answer remains unclear.

By Hope Reese: September 7, 2016

By 2021, major automakers—as well as tech companies like Google, Baidu, and Apple—are likely to unveil some form of autonomous driving capability. In Pittsburgh, Uber is now offering the public a chance to hail a ride in their self-driving fleet. And as we see more driverless cars on the road, the burden of driving will shift away from human drivers and onto the machine. The issue of liability is going to play an important role in the advance of driverless vehicles—especially how fast and how widely the movement takes shape.

When it comes to safety, the move towards fully-autonomous technology is a positive development. A report
Read the full article…

Teamsters, Lyft Drivers Objecting to Class-Action Settlement

Five Lyft drivers and the Teamsters union will object to a proposed class action settlement, saying it would shortchange drivers by keeping them as independent contractors instead of employees, a union spokesman said on Tuesday.

Lyft and larger rival Uber face separate lawsuits brought on behalf of drivers who contend they are employees and entitled to reimbursement for expenses including gas and vehicle maintenance. The drivers currently pay those costs.

Employment status is a critical one for the so-called sharing economy technology companies. The Uber and Lyft cases have been closely followed because a determination that the workers are employees rather than contractors could affect the valuations of other startups that rely on
Read the full article…

Contracts And Chaos: Inside Uber’s Customer Service Struggles

Uber’s customer support staff is the company’s first line of defense against driver and rider misconduct. But a BuzzFeed News investigation reveals that during Uber’s transition from a local customer support operation to a global one, these employees worked under conditions that sometimes made it difficult for them to do their jobs.

On the evening of May 19, 2015, Katherine accepted what was to be her last fare as an Uber driver.

A former customer support representative for the ride-hail company, Katherine — who asked to be identified by her middle name to protect her anonymity — hadn’t been driving for Uber for long. In March, her contract as a customer service
Read the full article…

At long last, the Anthony Rendon era officially begins

Environmentalist. Early childhood education advocate. Fan of daylight saving time. And now the 70th Speaker of the Assembly.

In just over three years at the Capitol, Anthony Rendon has ascended from head of a nonprofit to the top of political leadership in California. The Lakewood Democrat was selected last September as the next speaker and he will be sworn in Monday during Assembly session at 1 pm.

As the first speaker under new term limits that allow lawmakers to serve up to 12 years in either house, much attention has focused on how long Rendon could hold on to the position after a string of short-term leaders – and what he
Read the full article…

Allstate Rideshare Coverage Approved in California

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has approved a new rideshare insurance product from Allstate Insurance.

The Allstate coverage is for for people driving for transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft.

Beginning in April, TNC drivers will have the option to purchase Allstate’s “Ride for Hire” endorsement for an estimated additional $15 to $20 annually for improved insurance coverage during Period 1, while the app is activated and the driver is looking for a new fare.

Transportation network company services generally fall into three periods: Period 1: the driver has the rideshare app open and is waiting for a match; period 2: A match has been accepted, but the passenger has not yet
Read the full article…


f you think insurance companies ream you after a car accident, you’re right.

It’s a head-scratcher: You pay, what, a hundred bucks and change each month for auto coverage, basically for nothing, and the minute you get in a collision you pay again.

In fact, California is the worst state in the nation for post-accident premium increases, according to a new report from website insuranceQuotes and data partner Quadrant Information Services.

The average premium increase after a claim in which you’re at fault is a nation-leading 78 percent in the Golden State, the report found.

“We set out to answer these questions, ‘How much do auto insurance premiums go up after just one $2,000
Read the full article…

California Bay Area Town Bans Short-term Rentals, Airbnb not allowed

A picturesque town in the San Ramon Valley, Calif. has banned residents from operating short-term rentals.

The Contra Costa Times reported that Danville’s town council voted 4-to-1 Tuesday to prohibit rentals of fewer than 30 days.

The town’s attorney said Danville has about 20 households that host through platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO.

Some residents argued they should be allowed to use their property as they want, but many more said they didn’t want Danville’s “small town” feel ruined by strangers.

Danville is about 30 miles east of San Francisco, where Airbnb spent more than $8 million last fall to defeat a ballot measure to further regulate the industry. Cities large and small
Read the full article…

Quake early warning system could save lives. But it’s stalled over money dispute

When a magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit Napa in 2014, an earthquake alert system gave researchers in San Francisco about eight seconds of warning before the shaking began. Just last month, 30 seconds of warning reached downtown L.A. before the ground shook from a magnitude 4.4 quake centered near Banning.

Despite these successes, the early warning network is stymied by a lack of funding that has delayed full rollout of the system.

The White House this week highlighted advances of the system by bringing together top scientists, politicians and emergency managers in Washington who marveled at how it could give residents as well as emergency officials and businesses precious seconds of warning before a devastating
Read the full article…