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Finally: The Flying Car, Courtesy of Uber

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Uber Elevate

When we imagined the 21st century in the late lamented sixties, two features were always there: the cities on the Moon and the planets, and the flying cars. Much to our chagrin, neither materialized. But now SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to build cities on Mars, and Uber is envisioning a fleet of flying cars, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Everyone’s favorite ride-hailing company released a 98 page whitepaper titled “Fast-Forwarding to a Future of On-Demand Urban Air Transportation,” written by the “Uber Elevate” team. One of the authors, Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden, penned a summary with the same title in Uber’s Medium publication “Uber Under the Hood.”

“On-demand aviation has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes,” says Holden.

Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground.

The whitepaper and the post outline Uber’s vision of a network of small, electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft that will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities.

Of course VTOLs have many advantages over cars – we knew that in the sixties – and a VTOL transportation network infrastructure has many advantages over today’s car transportation and the congested, polluted and ultimately unlivable city spaces that come with it. Holden describes all these advantages in detail but, since it’s kind of obvious that flying cars are good, he focuses more on the challenges and potential roadblocks, both technical and regulatory.

Uber expects that that the daily long-distance commutes in heavily congested urban and suburban areas and routes under-served by existing infrastructure will be the first use cases for urban VTOLs – or, using the term that Uber seems poised to introduce, Uber Elevate. Then, a path to high production volume manufacturing will enable VTOLs to achieve a dramatically lower per-vehicle cost and make them “an affordable form of daily transportation for the masses, even less expensive than owning a car.”

Of course, Uber wants Elevate to boost its ride-hailing business model. The vision is nothing short of breathtaking: using the Uber app on your phone, you could book a flying car to come and pick you up anywhere in the city in minutes, just like today you book a Uber ride.

Today, if you live in a city like New York, with a large Uber ride-hailing network, you don’t really need to own a car. Why should you bother with the cost and hassle of owning a car (maintenance, insurance, parking, etc.) when you can get a Uber ride in minutes anytime 24/7? That will apply to flying cars as well. In fact, Uber expects that only a few people will buy the first flying cars, and the rest will use Uber flying cars as a service.

“Initially, of course, VTOL vehicles are likely to be very expensive, but because the ridesharing model amortizes the vehicle cost efficiently over paid trips, the high cost should not end up being prohibitive to getting started,” notes Holden. “And once the ridesharing service commences, a positive feedback loop should ensue that ultimately reduces costs and thus prices for all users, i.e. as the total number of users increases, the utilization of the aircraft increases.”

Will Uber VTOLs Fly Themselves?

Self-Driving Uber

Self-Driving Uber

It’s no mystery that Uber wants its cars to drive themselves eventually. The world’s first self-driving Uber cars are on the road in Pittsburgh, the Steel City. Uber knows that it is vulnerable to regulatory attacks based on the employment status of its drivers, and has a creative solution – no drivers.

In 2015 Uber established a strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to jointly develop technologies for self-driving cars at the company’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, near the CMU campus. In a recent move to boost Uber’s research and production capabilities for autonomous vehicles, the company acquired Otto, a technology startup that makes self-driving trucks.

We immediately wonder whether Uber VTOLs are also meant to fly themselves eventually. The whitepaper quotes NASA’s optimism about “fully autonomous air-taxis” and mentions “Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) and autonomous operation technologies” among the main technical challenges to overcome. Passages like “VTOL operations, at least until autonomous operations become commonplace, will require commercial pilots” seem to indicate that Uber has autonomous flying in mind indeed.

But Uber doesn’t want to open this front, not yet. Holden’s post mentions autonomous flying only in passing and as an assistance to the human pilot. “DEP and partial autonomy (pilot augmentation) are key pieces of the safety equation,” says Holden. VTOLs “will ultimately use autonomy technology to significantly reduce operator error.”

Thanks Uber for the flying car! Elon Musk, please don’t forget those cities in space.

Images from Uber.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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Uber: $120 Billion IPO?

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Uber Technologies Inc., the global ride-hailing giant, is reportedly eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) worth as much as $120 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, the IPO could take place early next year, giving investors ample time to prepare.

More Valuable than the Auto Giants

The $120 billion value proposal was delivered to Uber last month by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS), two of Wall Street’s largest banks. The banks were presumably advising Uber on how to position stock offerings to potential investors before underwriting the IPO.

The new valuation far exceeds the one Uber received from Toyota Motors Co (TYO), which priced the ride-sharing service at %72 billion.

At $120 billion, Uber would be worth more than the General Motors Co (GM), Ford Motor Co (F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) combined. The Detroit auto giants have seen their valuations rise in the wake of the financial crisis, buoyed by a prolonged recovery and increased appetite for automobiles. However, their growth has paled in comparison to Uber’s, which was founded in 2009.

Uber’s expansion hasn’t been without growing pains. The company has been mired by regulatory bottlenecks, workplace scandals and the alleged theft of trade secrets from Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Google’s parent company.

It is not entirely clear what metrics the Wall Street banks used to evaluate Uber’s potential value. The company reportedly told Morgan Stanley it won’t be profitable for at least another three years, though annual revenues are expected to reach up to $11 billion this year. That’s a marked rise over the $7.78 billion generated in 2017.

While there’s no guarantee that Uber will go public in the proposed timeframe, it must issue a public offering by the end of 2019, according to WSJ sources. That’s the agreement it has in place with investor SoftBank Group Corp.

Uber by the Numbers

Uber’s startling growth over the past nine years can be represented by a few statistics. As of May 8, 2018, the company had 19,000 employees. This doesn’t include the more than 3 million drivers who are getting paid through the ride-hailing service. Since inception, Uber drivers have completed some 10 billion rides. This averages out to about 15 million rides each day. Gross bookings in 2016 alone amounted to $20 billion.

As of June, 75 million riders were using the Uber app. In the U.S. alone, adult users are projected to reach 48 million by the end of 2018. The Uber app is installed on 21% of U.S. adult Android devices.

Currently, Uber owns up to 87% of the U.S. ride-hailing market. The growth and widespread adoption of the service has opened the door to other competitors, with Lyft being the biggest. Founded in 2012, Lyft is available in about 220 cities across the U.S. as well as in major cities across Asia.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 649 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Argo Mining as a Means of Diversification

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Buying Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency) is something we talk about a lot, but earning crypto is just as interesting. There are many ways to earn crypto that allow for arbitrage-like opportunities, but the focus of this piece is on mining companies.

More specifically, Argo Mining, which is the first cryptocurrency mining company to IPO. That might not sound like a big deal, but it gives Argo a critical competitive advantage over other companies.

The Mining Industry

One thing is clear right now, the mining industry is still very opaque. Users are constantly worried about being scammed, which is very similar to how it was when trading exchanges were popping up left and right. There are numerous options out there for companies that will help you mine cryptocurrency, but it isn’t always clear what the best choice is.

You can go one of two routes: have a mining application operate on your computer, or pay for a rented service. Honeyminer is an example of a native application that works well and pays out cryptocurrency, and Argo is an example of a “shared service”. Argo operates much like Amazon Web Services does. You pay to rent computational capabilities, but your goals end up being slightly different. The business models are sound, but very different.

Where Argo’s Advantage Comes From

Argo is the first mining company to IPO, which adds a level of trust that no other company can currently command. There are so many potential risks for users that they tend to shy away from these companies. They are worried about their payment information being ripped off, withdrawal of the coins, and the costs being greater than the revenues.

By raising $32 million in their June 11th IPO, Argo has alleviated many of these worries, and added a degree of trust to their brand. They started off mostly mining altcoins such as Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Zcash, but have recently announced Bitcoin mining packages as well.

The overall goal of Argo, as stated by their CEO, Jonathan Bixbay, is to democratize mining so everyone can participate. Right now, most of the mining is done by a select few of the elites, and Argo is enabling the wealth to be spread here.

Can Argo Actually Make You Money?

The big question to answer about Argo is whether you can actually make money doing this. The costs per month could potentially be higher than the value of the crypto you mine. Sure, you don’t have to pay trading fees on them, but it is important to calculate exactly how much you are coming out ahead.

It depends on the package, but you could potentially end up paying more for the fees than you earn. The trick is to remember that the crypto market isn’t like other markets – it isn’t perfectly efficient – and there are always arbitrage opportunities if you look hard enough.

An Alternate Route to Being Long Crypto

With much of crypto mining currently being done by elites because of the massive investment involved, it is clear that Argo has tapped a massive market. The company had a waitlist of 50,000 in September, and with the funds from the IPO, they can finally finance the expansion of their operations in a way that will speed up the number of people they can bring online.

If you believe Bitcoin (or cryptocurrencies in general) is coming out of a rut soon, then this is a good way to diversify into the market. Do your own tests and make sure that you are coming out ahead after the fees, but it should be a simple way to make some extra money in what is currently an inefficient market.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Crypto Market Development: Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Acquires Crowdfunding Platform

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  • Goldman Sachs-backed Circle has announced it has acquired SeedInvest. The fee has not been disclosed.
  • SeedInvest are a crowdfunding platform. Circle are planning to expand SeedInvest’s offerings to support cryptocurrencies.

The Goldman Sachs funded crypto start up Circle, are really stepping up their dominance within the market. Over the past two days, there has been a couple positive developments from their camp. Firstly, the firm has acquired crowdfunding platform SeedInvest. Elsewhere, they have added a new feature for their app, known as Collections.

Circle Acquires SeedInvest  

Circle Internet Financial is acquiring SeedInvest. Should all be approved by regulators, the company are targeting the strategy of delivering a token marketplace. This will enable businesses as well as individuals to raise capital and interact with investors using open crypto rails and infrastructure. Circle will want to make it easier for startups to issue digital coins. The scope also to facilitate customers to trade a larger variety of digital tokens. A full statement can be observed by their latest blog.

Collections

Another development from Circle, coming in the form of adding a new feature, is “Collections”. This will allow its users to invest in a particular theme. The following themes offered are “Platforms, Payments, and Privacy.” Users will be able to invest in an entire theme, with a single click. Providing a simplified way for investors portfolio be focused on multiple coins. Full coverage was posted within a blog from the company.

Market Review

These developments continue to cement the huge improvements being observed across the market. The sky appears to be the limit, as the digital currency sector does not stop having its infrastructure solidified. Updates such as the announcements from Circle, demonstrate capabilities are not limited. See previous acknowledgement points of the sector taking big legitimizing steps, in a prior Litecoin article, under the section Big Infrastructure Improvement In The Crypto Market’.

The one thing that will likely continue to slowdown the market is regulation. This will have to be the case for the foreseeable future. As revolutionizing as the industry is, regulators must remain cautious for the sake of all parties involved. Their concerns remain about the safety of investors that want to participate in the marketplace as well as ensuring that anti-money laundering protocols are maintained. In the long run, it is in the best interest of all those involved. Besides all of this, there is still remains some way to go for complete a complete solid system, in comparison to the traditional financial system.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 33 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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