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Main article: Transport

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California’s self-driving car reports are public. Here’s what they don’t mean.

18:11 | 27 February

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released its annual cache of autonomous vehicle testing and disengagements data that, depending how one chooses to interpret the data, shows stunning progress or stagnation.

The data, which every company testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in California must submit, tells a winding and sometimes contradictory tale of growth, consolidation and priorities. The total number of autonomous miles driven in 2019 rose 40% to more than 2.87 million, thanks largely to a notable uptick in public on-road testing by Baidu, Cruise, Pony.ai, Waymo and Zoox as well as newcomers Lyft.

And yet, the rise in total autonomous miles and permitted companies don’t tell the whole story. While the number of companies with testing permits grew to 60 in 2019, the percentage of companies actually testing on public roads fell to about 58%. In 2018, about 62% of the 48 companies that held permits tested on public roads.

Some companies scaled back public testing in California, either to move operations out of state or prioritize simulation. Aurora, for instance, saw its total on-road autonomous testing drop 59% to 13,429. Meanwhile, Aurora ramped up its simulation efforts, conducting more than 735,000 tests per day, an increase of over 100 times from 2018.

“While on-road testing is useful for collecting targeted data and performing late stage validation of self driving systems, we find that large-scale, on-road autonomous testing is a slow, and inefficient approach to development relative to more sophisticated, virtual techniques,” Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson wrote to the DMV.

Others, like Drive.ai, no longer exist. Two companies, Roadstar.ai and Ximotors.ai, failed to submit a disengagement report and have had their testing permits revoked.

The upshot: It’s not the who-is-winning-the-race narrative many might expect or try to tell. Those kinds of rankings and comparisons are nearly impossible for a number of reasons, including that testing on public roads is conducted in areas with varying degrees of complexity. Companies also aren’t required to report testing on private roads or tracks, out of state or in simulation, all of which provides a better assessment of an AV developer’s technology.

But the biggest issue is how companies interpret “disengagements,” a term that describes each time a self-driving vehicle disengages out of autonomous mode because the technology failed or when a human safety driver takes manual control due to safety reasons. Companies not only have different views of what qualifies as a disengagement, but that interpretation can change over time.

The DMV contends these reports are not intended to compare one company with another or reach broad conclusions on technological capabilities. Instead, the DMV told TechCrunch that it uses the reports for public awareness.

“From the reports we can see that as a whole, autonomous miles driven continue to increase annually, as do the number of permit holders, test vehicles and safety drivers,” a DMV spokesman wrote in an email.

Now industry grumbling over these disengagement reports is moving from behind-closed-doors lobbying to public commentary on social media and other forums.

This year, a growing number of companies, including Aurora, Cruise and Waymo issued public statements that DMV disengagement reports don’t provide relevant insights into performance and are a poor way of measuring progress or competency.

Moments after the DMV released the disengagement reports, Waymo took to Twitter to log its concerns, noting that the report doesn’t “provide relevant insights into the capabilities of the Waymo Driver or distinguish its performance from others in the self-driving space.” Waymo also noted that most of its public road testing is outside of California in markets like Detroit and Phoenix. The “real-world driving” that Waymo does conduct in California is “predominately engineering development, and not production releases.”

Waymo’s public criticism marks a shift within the company. In previous years, Waymo has celebrated its progress in glossy reports. This year, the company has become a vocal critic even as this latest report shows a year-over-year improvement in its disengagement rate as it increased its total number of miles. Waymo drove 1.45 million miles in autonomous mode in 2019, a 200,000 mile increase from the previous year, while its disengagement rate dropped to from 0.09 to 0.076 per 1,000 self-driven miles.

Other companies as well as analysts and industry watchers echoed Waymo’s sentiments. Several weeks ago, Cruise co-founder and CTO Kyle Vogt published a blog post that argued these disengagement reports should not be a proxy for the commercial readiness or safety of self-driving cars.

This airing of grievances did not produce an alternative metric that would accurately measure competency, readiness and progress. Waymo did say in its series of tweets that it is preparing to share more on a safety framework it has developed. Vogt’s post also suggested that Cruise is also working on a more comprehensive metric.

The reports have their shortfalls. However, they’re often the only window into a company’s autonomous vehicle program. Comparisons between companies might be ineffective, but examining multiple years of data from one AV developer can be helpful in connecting the dots on a business strategy or an imminent demise.

Take Cruise as an example. The company has amassed a $7.25 billion war chest and a chunk of that capital is being poured into putting more vehicles on the road for longer periods of time. Cruise reported 228 registered autonomous vehicles in 2019, a 40% increase since the previous year. Over that same time period, Cruise’s total mileage has increased by more than 85%.

Or take a look at Pony.ai. The company, which announced earlier this week that it has raised $400 million from Toyota Motor Corporation, reported 22 registered autonomous vehicles in 2019, three times more than the previous year. The startup reported 16,356 total AV miles in 2018. That figure skyrocketed to nearly 175,000 miles in 2019.

Despite all of the data —flaws and all — that these reports provide, they get no closer to revealing what metric companies use internally to determine progress, competency and answer the critical question of how safe is safe enough?


0

Boom says its supersonic XB-1 aircraft test program will be “fully carbon neutral”

21:21 | 24 February

Commercial aviation isn’t typically the place to look if you’re after carbon-light initiatives. Jet fuel isn’t generally very green, and airplanes burn a lot of it when traversing the skies. But supersonic flight startup Boom wants to change the perception of commercial aviation as an emissions costly prospect, starting with their testing development program for the XB-1 supersonic demonstration aircraft that will eventually lead to the development of its Overture passenger aircraft.

Boom claims this will make it the first commercial flight OEM to achieve this level of sustainability, especially from the very beginning of its aircraft flight testing and certification process. And while XB-1 (and eventually, Overture) aren’t electric or hybrid aircraft, the way the company hopes to achieve this milestone is through a combination of using sustainable jet fuel and carbon offsets (effectively the process of buying carbon ‘credits’ by funding projects that net reduce greenhouse gases) are to reduce its overall carbon footprints to zero.

The fuel that Boom is using comes from partner Prometheus Fuel, which is a company that uses electricity from renewable power sources, like solar and wind, to turn CO2 scrubbed from the air into jet fuel. Already, Boom has tested this fuel in use during some of its initial ground tests, and its findings indicate that it should be able to use them effectively through both the remainder of ground testing, as well as into its flight program.

While there is some debate about the overall validity and efficacy of carbon offsets, provided that money from these programs is funnelled into the proper initiatives, they do seem to result in more ecological harm than not. And any attempt to offset the economic impact of a flight program like Boom’s especially if it’s carried through to flying production aircraft, should be better for the environment than had no attempt been made whatsoever. Which, by the way, is the case for most new aircraft development programs.

Already, Boom is in the process of building the XB-1, which it will then flight test in partnership with Flight Research during a program in the Mojave Desert at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The goal is to begin testing during this summer, and eventually use the information gathered from the XB-1 program (which will be able to hold a pilot but no passengers) to build out the final Overture aircraft that will offer commercial passenger supersonic flight services. Boom has secured agreements with a number of airlines for pre-orders for Overture, including JAL and Virgin.

 


0

SpaceX’s spin-outs are helping build LA’s startup ecosystem

01:42 | 21 February

During the days when Snapchat’s popularity was booming, investors thought the company would become the anchor for a new Los Angeles technology scene.

Snapchat, they hoped, would spin-off entrepreneurs and angel investors who would reinvest in the local ecosystem and create new companies that would in turn foster more wealth, establishing LA as a hub for tech talent and venture dollars on par with New York and Boston.

In the ensuing years, Los Angeles and its entrepreneurial talent pool has captured more attention from local and national investors, but it’s not Snap that’s been the source for the next generation of local founders. Instead, several former SpaceX employees have launched a raft of new companies, capturing the imagination and dollars of some of the biggest names in venture capital.

“There was a buzz, but it doesn’t quite have the depth of bench of people that investors wanted it to become,” says one longtime VC based in the City of Angels. “It was a company in LA more than it was an LA company.” 

Perhaps the most successful SpaceX offshoot is Relativity Space, founded by Jordan Noone and Tim Ellis. Since Noone, a former SpaceX engineer, and Ellis, a former Blue Origin engineer, founded their company, the business has been (forgive the expression) a rocket ship. Over the past four years, Relativity href="https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/01/relativity-a-new-star-in-the-space-race-raises-160-million-for-its-3-d-printed-rockets/"> has raised $185.7 million, received special dispensations from NASA to test its rockets at a facility in Alabama, will launch vehicles from Cape Canaveral and has signed up an early customer in Momentus, which provides satellite tug services in orbit.

 


0

Autonomous yard trucking startup Outrider comes out of stealth with $53 million in funding

19:42 | 19 February

The 400,000 distribution yards located in the U.S. are critical hubs for the supply chain. Now one startup is aiming to make the yard truck — the centerpiece of the distribution yard — more efficient, safer and cleaner with an autonomous system.

Outrider, a Golden, Colorado startup previously known as Azevtec, came out of stealth Wednesday to announce that it has raised $53 million in seed and Series A funding rounds led by NEA and 8VC. Outrider is also backed by Koch Disruptive Technologies, Fraser McCombs Capital, warehousing giant Prologis, Schematic Ventures, Loup Ventures and Goose Society of Texas.

Outrider CEO Andrew Smith said distribution yards are ideal environments to deploy autonomous technology because they’re well-defined areas that are also complex, often chaotic and with many manual tasks.

“This is why a systems approach is necessary to automate every major task in the yard,” Smith said.

Outrider has developed a system that includes an electric yard truck equipped with a full stack self-driving system with overlapping suite of sensor technology such as radar, lidar and cameras. The system automates the manual aspect of yard operations, including moving trailers around the yard as well as to and from loading docks. The system can also hitch and unhitch trailers, connect and disconnect trailer brake lines, and monitor trailer locations.

The company has two pilot programs with Georgia-Pacific and four Fortune 200 companies in designated sections of their distribution yards. Over time, Outrider will move from operating in specific areas of these yards to taking over the entire yards for these enterprise customers, according to Smith.

“Because we’re getting people out of these yard environments, where there’s 80,000 pound vehicles, we’re delivering increased efficiency,” Smith told TechCrunch in a recent interview. That efficiency is not just in moving the trailers around the yard, Smith added. It also helps move the Class 8 semi trailers used for hauling freight long distances through the system and back on the road quickly.

“We can actually reduce the amount of time the over-the-road guys are stuck sitting at a yard trying to do a pickup or drop off,” Smith said.

Smith sees a big opportunity to demonstrate the responsible deployment of autonomy as well as clean up yard filled with diesel-powered yard trucks.

“If there was ever a location for near term automation and electrification of the supply chain, it’s here,” he said. “Our customers and suppliers understand there’s a big opportunity for these autonomy systems to accelerate the deployment of 50,000 plus electric trucks in the market because they are a superior platform for automation.”

 


0

Rocket Lab will launch a satellite to the Moon for NASA to prepare for the Lunar Gateway

00:57 | 15 February

Launch startup Rocket Lab has been awarded a contract to launch a CubeSat on behalf of NASA for the agency’s CAPSTONE experiment, with the ultimate aim of putting the CAPSTONE CubeSat into cislunar (in the region in between Earth and the Moon) orbit – the same orbit that NASA will eventually use for its Gateway Moon-orbiting space station. The launch is scheduled to take place in 2021.

The CAPSTONE launch will take place at Rocket Lab’s new Launch Complex 2 (LC-2) facility at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Rocket Lab opened its launch pad there officially in December, and will launch its first missions using its Electron vehicle from the site starting later this year.

The launch is significant in a number of ways, including being the second ever lunar mission to launch from the Virginia flight facility. It’s also going to employ Rocket Lab’s Photon platform, which is an in-house designed and built satellite that can support a range of payloads. In this case, Photon will transport the CAPSTONE CubeSat, which weighs only around 55 lbs, from Earth’s orbit to the Moon, at which point CAPSTONE will fire up its own small engines to enter its target cislunar orbit.

Rocket Lab introduced Photon last year, noting at the time that it is designed in part to provide longer-range delivery for small satellites – including to the Moon. That’s a key capability to offer as NASA embarks on its Artemis program, which aims to return human astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, and establish a more permanent human presence on and around the Moon in preparation for eventual missions to Mars.

CAPSTONE will play a key role in that mission, by acting “as a pathfinder” for the lunar Gateway that NASA eventually hopes to build and deploy.

“CAPSTONE is a rapid, risk-tolerant demonstration that sets out to learn about the unique, seven-day cislunar orbit we are also targeting for Gateway,” said Marshall Smith, director of human lunar exploration programs at NASA in a press release. detailing the news “We are not relying only on this precursor data, but we can reduce navigation uncertainties ahead of our future missions using the same lunar orbit.”

In total, the launch contract with Rocket Lab has a fixed price of $9.95 million, the agency said. NASA expects contractors Advanced Space and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems to begin building the CAPSTONE spacecraft this month ahead of its planned 2021 launch.

 


0

Tesla is going back to the markets to raise more than $2 billion through stock offering

18:25 | 13 February

Tesla said Thursday it plans to raise more than $2 billion through a common stock offering and will use the funds to strengthen its balance sheet and for general corporate purposes, despite signaling just two weeks ago that it would not seek to raise more cash.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk will purchase up to $10 million in shares in the offering, while Oracle co-founder and Tesla board member Larry Ellison will buy up to $1 million worth of Tesla shares, according to the securities filing.

The automaker has also granted underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to $300 million of additional common stock. If underwriters exercise that option, Tesla could raise as much as $2.3 billion.

The stock offering conflicts with statements Musk and CFO Zach Kirkhorn made last month during Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call. An institutional investor asked that given the recent run in the share price, why not raise capital now and substantially accelerate the growth in production? At the time, Musk said the company was spending money sensibly and that there is no “artificial hold back on expenditures.”

“We’re spending money I think efficiently and we’re not artificially limiting our progress,” Musk said dueing the January 29 call. “And then despite all that we are still generating positive cash. So in light of that, it doesn’t make sense to raise money because we expect to generate cash despite this growth level.”

Kirkhorn added to Musk’s comments noting that the company had laid a good foundation and was not holding back on growth.

“We have two products, two vehicle products launching right now and that will consume much of the bandwidth of the company to stabilize those over the course of the year,” Kirkhorn said. “And then looking into next year, we have even more products launching, more factories. So we want to be smart about how we spend money and grow in a way that’s sustainable. So we don’t fall victim to the mistakes I think we made a year and a half or so ago.”

However, Tesla shares have risen more than 35% since the January 29 earnings call, perhaps proving too tempting of an opportunity to ignore.

This latest stock raise could prove critical to fund Tesla’s number of projects. A regulatory filing posted prior to the stock offering notice indicates Tesla’s capital expenditures could reach as high as $3.5 billion this year.

“Considering the expected pace of the manufacturing ramps for our products, construction and expansion of our factories, and pipeline of announced projects under development, and consistent with our current strategy of using partners to manufacture battery cells, as well as considering all other infrastructure growth, we currently expect our average annual capital expenditures in 2020 and the two succeeding fiscal years to be $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion,” Tesla said in its 10K filing, which was posted Thursday.

 


0

Dial-an-Uber lets users talk to an actual human to hail a ride

17:36 | 13 February

Uber is piloting a new feature aimed at older adults that will let customers dial a 1-800 number and speak to an actual human being to hail a ride. The move isn’t just a departure from its app roots. It’s another sign that Uber is trying to transform into a transportation company that serves a larger customer base.

The dial-an-Uber feature was “designed with older adults in mind” though anyone preferring conversational support will benefit from this pilot, the company said. The feature was built based on feedback from older adults who told the company that “live conversations, and simplicity of experience can make a difference for their transportation needs,” according to the ride-hailing company.

After dialing 1-833-USE-UBER, the customer will be paired with a live team member that confirms their trip request, provides an upfront price quote.

There are some important caveats to this feature that could shut out folks who don’t own a cellular phone.

Customers still must have a phone that can receive SMS or text-based mobile phone to receive important messages about the ETA of the ride, driver’s license plate details, and the driver’s name. Users will continue to receive messages before and during your trip, and once it concludes, they’ll receive a trip receipt.

The company will initially launch the phone number 1-833-USE-UBER in Arizona. There is no extra charge for using this service, though Uber noted that carrier message and data rates may apply. Anyone in the state can call the phone number to hail an Uber in the cities where the service is currently available. Users can also ask for specific Uber options such as UberX, Uber Comfort, Uber Black, Black SUV, as well as Uber Assist and WAV, where available.

Uber said it will expand the dial-an-Uber to more states in the coming months.

Uber was also explicit that the 1-800 number is not meant for general customer support inquiries, although certainly it will be used for that purpose.

 


0

FAA’s proposed remote ID rules should make compliance easy

02:13 | 13 February

Jon Hegranes Contributor
Jon is the CEO and co-founder of Kittyhawk, the leading provider of unmanned software and airspace systems.

When Josh, my co-founder, and I founded Kittyhawk, we saw the need for a new way to aviate with the demands and opportunities that unmanned systems would create. We set out to build the future of programmatic aviation, yet to enable this aviation renaissance we also knew that pragmatic innovation was key.

We didn’t rush into building cool but ineffective technologies. We ignored the lure of flashy solutions looking for problems. We started from day one working, learning and engaging directly with our customers, who are now some of the largest users of aviation. Unless our customers — operators of some of the largest manned and unmanned fleets in the U.S. — can leverage a piece of technology today, its usefulness is muted. Unless our platform can make the entire National Airspace System (NAS) safer for all stakeholders, the effectiveness is diluted.

Our DNA is built on skating where the puck is going, innovating at the edge so that we can move fast and deliver actual capabilities that are impactful from day one with the potential to accrue more value and evolve over time. There’s no better example of this than Remote ID.

More than two years ago, we released our real-time telemetry and tracking of aircraft. Not simple representations of a flight icon on a screen, but live data of aircraft that businesses, governments and public safety workers utilize every day. How we view the future of Remote ID is based on our experience of powering live-flight data and the feedback and learning that we’ve received over the last two years of enabling Remote ID across our user base. We’ve incorporated all of this data and practical experience — along with all of your feedback from our NPRM survey results — to inform our approach to Remote ID.

Below, we’ve attached the full public comments that we’ll submit to the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on Remote ID, but first, let’s begin with a few of our core beliefs that are central to how we operate as a company and the voice that we strive to give all of our users who fly with Kittyhawk:

  • We believe that technology and software innovations should enable flight.
    • Any rules, technologies or regulations that curtail or disenfranchise flight are not well-thought out and fail to appreciate what technology can solve.
  • We believe that technology should be adopted based on its merits and its core utility.
    • Regulating technologies based on the potential for misuse is unprecedented in our nation and has no place in the adoption of unmanned systems.
  • We believe the future of aviation requires new ways of thinking to accomplish scale requirements and the need for mass adoption.
    • Rules or processes that start and end within a traditional mindset are flawed and will fail to result in meaningful impact.
  • We believe the future is now.
    • Safety and speed are not mutually exclusive and there are ways to create a safer NAS today that all aviation users can adopt immediately.

On November 21, 2019, the FAA was rolling out a new batch of LAANC-enabled airports, including Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD), which represents a huge swath of airspace in the security-sensitive area of Washington, DC. To give you a sense of how excited our users were for this, we began receiving support requests shortly after the strike of midnight as people were anxious to comply and fly in this airspace. Their initial authorization requests, however, were receiving errors, as it wouldn’t be until later that day that the FAA would officially flip the switch for these new airports and we could begin accepting LAANC requests for KIAD.

Moral of the story: If you give operators an easy way to comply, they’ll move faster than regulators to do everything they can to get in the air compliantly.

High-level comments on the NPRM

The current draft of the NPRM is overly complicated, presenting solutions for problems that don’t exist and introducing complexity that won’t solve the problems that do. We can create a baseline for Remote ID today that opens airspace and impacts safety. We can create a system that demands compliance without creating privacy black holes. There is a better way and we can do it in 2020.

No. 1: Leave OEM certification out of the picture completely

There is absolutely no reason that OEMs should be involved in the NPRM on Remote ID. The role of an aircraft is to reliably fly based on the controls it receives, not the other way around.

We do not require DVRs to prevent you from recording the Super Bowl on the off chance that you might redistribute it. We do not require cars to prevent you from driving if you don’t have validated licenses and registrations. Just because a piece of technology has the potential for misuse, it’s unprecedented and un-American to restrict capabilities at the hardware level based simply on what-ifs.

Any hardware requirement for Remote ID introduces unnecessary security concerns and also adds unnecessary time to the path to adoption. The thought of giving this much power to hardware manufacturers to control access to the NAS should scare everyone, and I’m surprised the FAA failed to consider this. OEM control of airspace access via Remote ID greatly expands the target landscape for hackers and data breaches.

By removing OEM requirements and proposals around things like new serial number systems, all current unmanned systems and models alike will not be relegated to the scrap heap. All current recreational and commercial operations will not need to buy new drones or worry about costly retrofits with untold timelines for potential compliance.

Recommendation: Put all the responsibility on the Remote Pilot In Command (RPIC). Delete all OEM manufacturer requirements from the rule.

No. 2: A logical, tiered approach is the only way

A tiered approach to Remote ID makes a lot of sense, but the proposed tiers in the NPRM are misguided and disjointed.

Remote ID tiers should account for different types of flight by different types of operations in different types of airspace. The more timely and rich the Remote ID data, the more freedom to the sky should be enabled, but there should be more tiers with a lower bar to simply get in the air.

To this end, there should be a tier that includes a volume-based Remote ID (like we have in the ASTM and like we’ve already developed and showcased in the open-source InterUSS Remote ID platform). Think LAANC reservation, but for Remote ID, where a user can announce a time/place of flight. This would require no new hardware and no new technology. Every operation from model aircraft to routine Part 107 commercial flights could adopt and comply with this, effective immediately at zero cost.

Additionally, there should be more privileges for sharing real-time data and having a connected operation that can communicate and deviate if required. If Remote ID is going to unlock BVLOS, then the highest tier of Remote ID operations should do just that.

Recommendation: A tiered system that creates a low-friction, zero-cost ability to comply with Remote ID, extending to a more demanding requirement that results in BVLOS without a waiver.

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Ceiling (Uncontrolled Airspace) Up to 200ft Up to 400ft Up to 400ft
Ceiling (Controlled Airspace) Up to 100ft* Up to 400ft* Up to 400ft*
Range VLOS VLOS BVLOS
Remote ID Requirements Volume-based reservation of a time/place.

Can be done remotely, up to 90 days in advance.

Volume-based reservation of a time/place.

Plus live sharing of telemetry via broadcast or network.

Volume-based reservation of a time/place.

Plus live sharing of telemetry via broadcast or network.

Plus network connection for aircraft or control stations to send and receive real-time messages.

Process Submitted and processed like LAANC to a USS. Submitted and processed like LAANC to a USS.

Broadcast or network to meet data requirements (see below).

Submitted and processed like LAANC to a USS.

Broadcast or network to meet data requirements (see below).

*Or lower if flying in controlled airspace and LAANC ceiling is lower than the corresponding tier.

No. 3: Tier-based Remote ID data

Remote ID data for public consumption should be separate from law enforcement use cases that may come in the future. Conflating public use cases with law enforcement use cases adds unnecessary complexity and sacrifices privacy.

The objective with Remote ID data is that it’s actionable for other aircraft and flights in the area — and for the public — to understand what is buzzing over them. Yet, the public needs only a few data points to share with law enforcement who can then put the pieces together. The “license plate” is all law enforcement really needs to take action.

Anything else is a bonus and should be optional based on the tier of the flight you want to execute.

In our experience with customers who want to early adopt into Remote ID and from what we’ve seen in our Remote ID survey, people will gladly share more information with law enforcement. People will also gladly share more information if it results in more access to the air. Just as it is the RPIC’s responsibility to comply with Remote ID, it should also be up to the RPIC to control her data.

Recommendation: Fewer data requirements with more optional fields at lower-tier operations, with more demanding data sharing and real-time communications at the highest tier to enable advanced operations.

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Aircraft Identity serial number or anonymous session ID** serial number or anonymous session ID** serial number or anonymous session ID**
Aircraft Location N/A real-time LAT/LONG real-time LAT/LONG
Operator Identity optional FAA registration number or anonymous operator ID** FAA registration number or anonymous operator ID**
Operator Location N/A N/A real-time LAT/LONG
Operator Contact Information optional optional required
Flight Plan optional optional Submitted with takeoff, landing, route and emergency landing points.

Updated in real time.

**Generated and stored by a USS.

The FAA remarked in the NPRM at the successful private-public partnership that is LAANC. Let’s build on that infrastructure. We don’t need a new class of USS but simply to extend where and how we announce flights in the NAS. We already see that behavior today where users want to create polygons and announce flights in uncontrolled airspace.

At Kittyhawk, we’re going to continue building this concept of Remote ID into our platform for all of our users and we welcome other USSs and partners who want to join us and bring an actionable form of Remote ID to the NAS.

If you share our vision, please let us know and also let the FAA know with comments on the NPRM. There is a simpler and more effective path to Remote ID and we can do it in 2020.

 


0

Swiftmile is bringing advertising to micromobility

20:13 | 12 February

Swiftmile, the startup that wants to become the gas station for micromobility vehicles, is getting into advertising. Swiftmile already supplies cities and private operators with docks equipped to park and charge both scooters and e-bikes. Now, the company is starting to integrate digital displays that attach to its charging stations to provide public transit info, traffic alerts and, of course, ads.

“It adds tremendous value because it’s a massive market,” Swiftmile CEO Colin Roche told TechCrunch. “Tons of these corporations want to market to that group but you cannot do that on a scooter, nor should you. So there’s a massive audience that wants to market to that group but also cities like us because we’re bringing order to the chaos.”

When a rider pulls up to the station and parks a vehicle, the 55-inch screen will display nearby transit schedules, in partnership with Transit Screen, to encourage more people to rely on public transit.

“TransitScreen is excited to partner with Swiftmile to support the increased access to real-time information about mobility choices,” TransitScreen VP of Enterprise Solutions Tony Hudgins said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Mobility hubs like theirs are changing what commuting looks like in the future, and we look forward to being a part of increased first- and last-mile solutions.”

Swiftmile plans to start deploying these screen-equipped stations in March. By the end of the year, Swiftmile anticipates deploying 1,000 of these stations with digital screens. That would come out to about $80 million a year in ad revenue. Already, Verizon Media Group (owner of TechCrunch) is a customer of Swiftmile.

Swiftmile has already deployed 140 of its charging stations in cities like Austin and Berlin, and plans to hit 1,000 by the end of the year. Down the road, Swiftmile envisions partnering with auto manufacturers to enable car owners to charge their vehicles alongside scooters.

Swiftmile, which is also backed financially by Verizon, has raised about $6 million in funding. It’s gearing up to officially announce its Series A in the coming weeks.

 


0

Profitability expectations ding Lyft despite better-than-expected growth

03:05 | 12 February

Hello and welcome back to our regular look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

This afternoon we’re digging into Lyft’s earnings results, unpacking the company’s performance, the market’s expectations and why shares in the American ride-hailing giant are off in after-hours trading.

Lyft’s earnings — following Uber’s own results that promised investors a quicker-than-anticipated path to (adjusted) profits — and the market’s reaction to its performance, provide a good frame for evaluating investors’ appetite for profits against growth. It’s a topic that’s important for startup founders and private-market investors alike.

Our investigation today is contentedly straightforward. We’ll start with the big numbers, drill into comparative performance and then weigh what the market is telling us.

Lyft’s key Q4 2019 results

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Lyft’s revenue came in at $1.017 billion, a gain of 52% compared to its year-ago result of $669.5 million. Sticking to the growth side of things, the company’s “active rider” count rose from 18.59 million to 22.91 million from Q4 2018 to Q4 2019, a gain of 23%. Lyft’s active riders also spent 23% more year-over-year, reaching $44.40 in the final quarter of last year.

Turning to losses, Lyft’s net loss (a metric that includes all costs) was $356.0 million in the quarter, a sharply worse result than its $248.9 million net loss in Q4 2018. The company’s adjusted net loss, however, was $121.4 million, an improvement from its year-ago $238.5 million adjusted net loss.

Turning to adjusted EBITDA, a heavily adjusted profit metric, Lyft lost $130.7 million in Q4 2019, an improvement on its Q4 2018 adjusted EBITDA loss of $251.1 million.

Investors had expected Lyft to report just $985.8 million in revenue and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $163.2 million. The street had also anticipated 100,000 fewer active riders and slightly slimmer revenue per active rider. So, Lyft beat expectations regarding growth, user count and health and for adjusted losses.

And yet Lyft’s shares are off over 4% in after-hours trading. While Lyft’s stock has recovered from lows set in October, 2019, the company’s equity is now more than $20 down from its IPO price, taking into account its post-earnings movement.

Why Lyft’s stock should fall after beating expectations and not changing its profit forecast might appear a bit confusing. It’s not.

Damn you, Uber

 


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