Connect with us


Former Uber safety driver: not allowed to take bathroom breaks





uber self drivingRyan Kelley said he received a mild concussion from operating a self-driving Uber vehicle.Gene J. Puskar / AP

  • Ryan Kelley, a former safety driver for Uber‘s autonomous vehicle program, told Business Insider he felt as if he wasn’t allowed to take bathroom breaks the month before he was fired.
  • “They made it clear you probably should hold it,” he said.
  • Stopping a test vehicle for a bathroom break could disturb it and ultimately require up to an hour of rebooting or troubleshooting, Kelley said, which would decrease the number of miles it would drive.
  • Read the full story about Uber’s self-driving car program here.


Ryan Kelley, a former safety driver for Uber’s autonomous vehicle program, told Business Insider he felt as if he wasn’t allowed to take bathroom breaks the month before he was fired.

Kelley described December, 2017, as a stressful month for Uber’s autonomous driving team, which was under pressure to log as many test miles as possible. Stopping a test vehicle for a bathroom break could disturb it and ultimately require up to an hour of rebooting or troubleshooting, Kelley said, which would decrease the number of miles it would drive.

“They made it clear you probably should hold it,” he said.

Read more: Uber employees describe a stressful and ‘ridiculous’ culture at the self-driving car unit under its current leader Eric Meyhofer

Uber’s autonomous driving software was prone to overly aggressive braking on one day that month, leaving Kelley’s vision blurred and stomach upset, he said. He described the experience of operating the vehicle that day as similar to “being in a series of low-end collisions for three hours, with my head slamming against the headrest constantly.”

Kelley and other drivers told their supervisors about the headaches they experienced that day. After the manager responsible for safety, Rob Shoup, heard about the drivers’ complaints, he accused the drivers of faking their symptoms.

“They are just faking it, trying to shirk work,” Shoup said, according to Kelley (although Uber denies that Shoup accused anyone of faking their complaints).

Kelley left work early that day and was diagnosed with a mild concussion “consistent with symptoms for a low-speed car accident,” after his wife made him go the emergency room, he said.

He said he brought his ER diagnosis to work the next day as evidence of his and the other safety drivers’ headaches and reported Shoup’s comment to Uber’s human resources department.

About a month later, on January 26, Kelley was fired.

Uber’s HR told him he had let the car roll through a stop sign on January 3 and failed to report it. Kelley denied that this incident occurred to Business Insider and told us he was never shown the car’s video of the incident. Uber says that after initially denying it, Kelley later admitted fault and apologized. His apology did not get him reinstated to his job.

“I truly believe I was let go because I was a squeaky wheel. I made safety concerns,” he said.

In an emailed statement, Eric Meyhofer, the current leader of Uber’s self-driving car unit, acknowledged that the team made “missteps” in the past but said it had done some soul-searching in the nine months since the fatal accident.

“Our team continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to building a culture rooted in safety, transparency, and continuous improvement across every facet of our self-driving development,” he said. “While we have made some missteps in the past, we are optimistic that the changes we’ve made over the last 9 months reflect the kind of culture we want to foster at ATG.”

Uber received permission on December 18 to resume testing its self-driving vehicles on public roads in Pittsburgh, nine months after a fatal accident in Arizona. 

Have you worked for Uber? Do you have a story to share? Email this reporter at

Read the full story about Uber’s self-driving car program here.


Source link

قالب وردپرس


A big test of reusable packaging for groceries comes to Canada





An online store has launched in Ontario selling groceries and household items from Loblaws in containers it will take back and refill — a test of whether Canadian consumers are ready to change their habits. Industry-watchers say it is breaking ground for reusable packaging.

The store, called Loop, launched in Canada on Feb. 1, in partnership with supermarket giant Loblaws, and offers items like milk, oats, ice cream and toothpaste for delivery in most of Ontario. Loop is already operating in the continental U.S., the U.K and France. 

Included so far are some products from well-known brands such as PC sauces and oils, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Heinz ketchup, Chipits chocolate chips and Ocean Spray cranberries. 

“The goal is really validating that this is something the Canadian public is interested in,” said Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Loop and its parent company TerraCycle.

Unlike existing small no-waste retailers, they want to offer “your favourite product at your favourite retailer in a reusable and convenient manner.”

The involvement of a huge retailer makes the launch notable in terms of scale and who it will reach, said Tima Bansal, Canada Research Chair in business sustainability at Western University in London, Ont. 

“I think it’s at the scale that’s needed to create the change in the community in Canada more generally,” she said.

How it works for customers

Szaky likens Loop to the reusable bottle system for beer in Canada “but expanding it to any product that wants to play in the [North American] ecosystem.”

The ultimate goal, he said, is to give people a greener way to consume that limits the amount of mining and farming needed to produce packaging.

“This allows us to greatly reduce the need to extract new materials, which is the biggest drain on our environment. currently lists just 98 products, although many are sold out or “coming soon.” 

As with other online grocery stores, customers fill their virtual shopping cart, but in addition to the cost of the item itself, they pay a deposit for its container. That can range from 50 cents for glass President’s Choice salsa jars like the ones that are normally at the supermarket to $5 for a stainless steel Häagen-Dazs ice cream tub. 

The items are delivered to a customer’s home by courier FedEx for a $25 fee, although the fee is waived for orders over $50.

Once you’ve spooned out all the salsa or ice cream or squeezed out all the toothpaste, the container doesn’t go in the recycling bin. Instead, you toss them into the tote bag they came in — even if they’re dented or damaged — and they get picked up.

Continue Reading


This wearable device beeps when workers get too close to each other





It’s a device that emits a high-pitched beep, buzzes and lights up if your coworker steps too close.

While some introverts would have bought this device before the pandemic to stave off chatty colleagues near the coffee machine, ZeroKey designed the product with a more important purpose — helping employees physically distance to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

The Calgary tech company’s “Safe Space” device looks like a small plastic badge that can be worn on a wrist or clipped to a shirt pocket or belt. 

“Our products, in a nutshell, localize or figure out where things are in 3D space and our big claim to fame is we do it very precisely, more precisely than anyone else in the world,” said Matt Lowe, co-founder and CEO of ZeroKey.

The company says its location-tracking technology passively monitors the distance between each device and is accurate down to 1.5 millimetres. The distance on devices can be set — so if, say, science determines three metres apart is actually safer that two, that can be tweaked. 

Lowe says the company came from humble beginnings — he and a co-founder, working out of a room in his house. The company has grown from two to 30 employees and has more openings it’s looking to fill.

Inspired by sci-fi

Their inspiration comes, as so many technological innovations have, from sci-fi. 

Lowe recalls watching Minority Report, and being transfixed with the gesture-based user interface Tom Cruise’s character operates. 

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had an interface that was more in tune with how humans operate naturally with their hands. So if you could just walk up to a new piece of technology … and just immediately be proficient,” he said. 

But applying that tech to the COVID-19 era wasn’t something the company had anticipated.

Lowe said some of the company’s clients in the manufacturing industry approached ZeroKey with a request.

“They came to us and said, ‘hey … we have the data where people are, can you build some sort of system so that we can do contact tracing and we can let people know if they’re closer than two metres?’ And we said, ‘absolutely … that’s easier than what we normally do,'” he said.

Continue Reading


Blistering rallies spur Canadian tech world to repeat equity sales





Canadian technology companies have been making multiple trips to the equity market over the past year, capitalizing on a rally in tech shares that’s helping them raise cash at ever higher valuations.

Dye & Durham Ltd., which makes software used by law firms, took advantage of a more than sixfold rally in its shares since its July IPO to raise $500 million (US$394 million) in a bought deal of stock and convertible debentures, the company said Tuesday. Dye & Durham, which went public at $7.50 a share, received $50.50 per share in the private placement. Peers including Lightspeed POS Inc. and Docebo Inc. have made similar moves.

Shares of technology companies have gained since the onset of the pandemic as their corporate customers increasingly turned to cloud-based applications to support their remote workforces, said Anurag Rana, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. The technology sector was one of the few places investors could look for growth during the crisis, with huge swaths of the economy including retailers, restaurants, airlines, hotels and casinos hammered by lockdowns, he said.

“Issuers and private-equity investors are not stupid, and they know somewhere down the road that valuations may come back,” Rana said. “So this is the time when they sell.”

Canada’s S&P/TSX Information Technology Index has risen 82 per cent in the past year, fuelled by rallies in Lightspeed and Shopify Inc. That compares with a 36 per cent advance for the U.S. S&P 500 Information Technology Index.

Those gains are giving early investors in tech companies an opportunity to take some profits. In conjunction with Dye & Durham’s private deal announced Tuesday, some investors agreed with the underwriters to sell 1.98 million shares at the $50.50 price as well.

Lightspeed, which provides cloud-based point-of-sale systems for retailers and restaurants, has also seized the moment. The company went public in Canada in February 2019 and last year followed that up with a U.S. IPO, selling shares for US$30.50 apiece. The deal raised US$332.3 million for the company and US$65.4 million for some shareholders.

After Lightspeed’s share price more than doubled, it went back to the market again last week with a public offering of shares for US$70 each, raising US$620.2 million for the company and US$56 million for other shareholders.

Docebo, which sells cloud-based learning software, has tapped the market multiple times over the past year. The firm, which went public in Canada in October 2019, completed a bought deal of shares atC$50 apiece in August. The move raised $25 million for the company and $50 million for investors including founder and Chief Executive Officer Claudio Erba, Chief Revenue Officer Alessio Artuffo and top outside investor Intercap Equity Inc.

Continue Reading