Google is reportedly creating its own on-demand ride service

Google is building its own ride hailing service, according to a Bloomberg report. The company will likely be integrating its service with its self-driving car technology.

There’s a pretty big conflict of interest here. Namely, Google Ventures is one of Uber’s big investors, and Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond serves on Uber’s board. That’s apparently how the news got out: Drummond told Uber what was happening, and now, Uber is weighing whether he can stay on the board, reported Bloomberg.

The news comes in the same hour as a TechCrunch report that Uber hired 50 senior scientists from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics branch to develop its own self-driving car. It looks like the two companies are settling down to do battle over the logistics and transportation space.

It’s a big shift from Uber and Google’s prior relationship, which was quite cozy. Google spurned Uber competitors Lyft and Sidecar by integrating only Uber into its Google Maps’ directions feature. Google’s venture arm invested in Uber in the comparatively early Series C investment, leading the $258 million round.

Google believes it’s less than five years away from bringing its driverless cars to market. At the moment, the vehicles’ speed is capped at 25 miles an hour. As the technology develops and the cars get faster, however, the next obvious step is to shlep people about.

The fact that Google is already working on such a service, means the gauntlet has been thrown. Game on Uber.

This story is developing and we’ll update as we get more information.

Driving with Google Glass: Road hazard or a smooth ride?

Lawmakers are seeking to ban Google Glass when driving and Google is reportedly fighting back with lobbyists. I can and do drive with Glass, so I see both sides. I’d prefer a technical solution to a legislative one, though.

Driving? Texting while walking is bad too.

It is not a surprise that when you walk and text, you see a massive drop in viewing your surroundings, but did you know that when walking and texting or talking on the phone at the same time, your speed of walking declines by 16 percent?

Plug-in gadget halts phone texting, apps while driving

Scosche has a simple, $129 plug-and-play solution called the CellControl to help curb smartphone activities while driving. When the module detects the vehicle in motion, all handset activities, with the exception of hands-free functions, are disabled through a corresponding smartphone app. Fewer distractions means safer driving.

ZipCar: Car Sharing/Renting With Your iPhone

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Perhaps one of the most amazing partnership announcements made during WWDC’s keynote yesterday is ZipCar‘s exciting story of iPhone app design. But it could easily fall through the cracks, for a couple of reasons: One, hardware announcements took center stage, and two, people who don’t live in major urban centers might not be aware of what exactly ZipCar even is. Most people will be familiar with the wacky science fiction future portrayed by “The Jetsons,” however, and that’s the sort of tech magic the two companies previewed yesterday.

For those who don’t know, ZipCar is a car-sharing alternative to vehicle ownership that operates in big cities like New York, London, Chicago and Toronto, to name a few. The idea is that many urban dwellers don’t need a car often enough that it makes financial sense to own one, so instead ZipCar provides an accessible fleet available for use when you need it, where you need, for as long or as little as you need it. It’s almost like a car subscription service, and though I’ve yet to use it myself, friends review it very favorably. Read More about ZipCar: Car Sharing/Renting With Your iPhone

Should Talking on Cell Phones While Driving be Banned?

Do you ever make business or personal calls on your cell phone while driving? If so, you may want to pay close attention to a campaign launched this week by the National Safety Council (NSC) to prohibit even turning on a phone while behind the wheel.

The organization sent letters to governors and legislative leaders in all 50 states, urging them to make the ban part of their motor-vehicle laws. This idea goes way beyond the efforts that have taken place in many states and cities to ban drivers from texting and using handheld phones. The NSC says that dozens of studies have found that using a hands-free phone while driving is no safer than using a handheld one. It’s a distraction issue, and the group says studies show that about 6 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused at least in part by drivers not paying attention while on the phone.

This shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is from a big organization with lobbying clout, the same group that devised the “click it or ticket” slogan, adopted in many places to warn drivers to follow the law and buckle up.
The AAA motor club, another group with influence, has a campaign of its own to educate drivers to the fact that using a hands-free phone isn’t safer than using a handheld. But AAA hasn’t endorsed the safety council’s more radical position.

What do you think of a ban on using a cell phone while driving?