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Lyft and Waymo Reach Deal to Collaborate on Self-Driving Cars (nytimes.com)
719 points by josephpmay on May 15, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 371 comments



I guessed this would happen in a previous comment. Lyft being second fiddle in the ride sharing business has allowed them to take advantage of all of Uber's accumulating missteps. Partnering with GM and now Google it seems that this will be like android. Waymo provides self driving car software . Lyft is like a cell phone carrier providing logistics and the network, and GM provides cars (hardware) which would be like Samsung.

[1]https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14321265


Waymo will have the first self driving cars on the road.

They are so ahead of everyone.

I think everyone including regular car companies buy the tech from Waymo in the short term.


Waymo is going to win because of (1) better sensors and (2) better onboard computing power. Other companies can potentially compete in the former domain but literally no one in the world can go toe-to-toe with Waymo and siblings in the latter department. The ML powering Level 4 driving decisions is not cheap in dollars or power consumption and Google is already way ahead of the curve when it comes to custom fabrication of those type of systems.


The hardware will become commodity. The software is where the action will be.

Imagine what would happen with fighter jets if they only had 3 main sensors. Lidar, Radar and camera.


The thing is: in the long run, yes; in the short run, Waymo is manufacturing its own chipsets that it has a patent on. It's not using COTS kit for on-board processing, which gives it a significant technical advantage that will be hard for competitors to match.


Elon maintains that with just cameras you can achieve super-human (10x) performance with self-driving cars. Fact I nabbed when he spoke about Boring at TED. https://www.ted.com/talks/elon_musk_the_future_we_re_buildin...


I wouldn't ever bet against Musk, but Musk says a lot of things. Yes we should be able to make self driving cars with just cameras because, after all, we do it with just two eyes. But in what world is computer vision perfect? Tesla's Autopilot already has a fatality on its record because it couldn't differentiate the color of the sky with the color of a truck.

LIDAR solves a lot of problems.


There's another aspect of it though. As soon as Waymo makes self-driving cars more popular, and there are less humans on the road - you just need inferior technology to be able to operate. Bootstrapping this is the hardest - after self-driving cars are a thing, normally we'll see accelerated move towards fully automated driving.

In the extreme case, if Waymo cars are 80%, Tesla cars can easily be 20% just based on the fact that Waymo cars will avoid most accidents made by Tesla software errors


You might be right, but I'll devil's advocate a bit, with a few possible predictions (none of which I believe in all THAT strongly, just speculation)

- If there's a period where new self driving cars are popular but aftermarket self driving kits for older cars are unaffordable or nonexistant, then during this period, the price of non-self-driving cars will plummet dramatically. Who knows, you might be able to buy a 2 year old camry for $1000. The market for these cars will exclusively be (other than oddballs/enthusiasts) people whose wages are so low that driving yourself in a non-self-driving car is still cheaper in an overall sense than using self-driving cabs, so that will cap the possible value of such cars at a pretty low point.

- As long as (possibly as a result of the above) the number of human driven cars on the road is at all significant (like, at least 1% or 0.1% or something), the benefits you mention will be hard to attain. In a given trip a car interacts with hundreds of other cars.

- You forgot about pedestrians and cyclists. In many places, there are more of those than there are cars, anyway, so even if all cars are self driving,

- There's going to be weather and construction and falling trees and runaway skateboards and runaway trucks on ice covered hills and wildfires and so on. This kind of software will operate at scale, so improbable events become important to handle.

- Uber is probably dumb enough to hope your argument is true and think they can get away with half-assed self-driving, which is why they're going to fail miserably and go bankrupt.

- There's going to be regulation. As a made up example, if the "Waymo patent tax" is "just" $5000 per car, it's going to be pretty hard for a car manufacturer to justify to regulators that they'll instead develop competing software that is somewhat inferior in safety, but "acceptable", for the sake of saving, say, half of that $5000 (it still costs the thrifty manufacturer money to develop or buy their lower quality software!). All it'll take is one fatality and people will be up in arms. If the "acceptable" technology was the first one out, it'd be different, but it'll be hard to convince anyone it's worth the risk when there's better tech already out there. BTW, Waymo management would obviously be clever about setting a good price point that captures lots of value but still is low enough to discourage this kind of competition.

- My vague software and driving intuitions tell me it'd actually be easier to design a more general system anyway (massive handwaving). It's actually HUMANS (specifically those accustomed to easy suburban western driving conditions) who have a harder time driving when they can't assume everyone will follow the rules, not computers, and I think that's why so many people mistakenly (IMHO) imagine it'd be so easy to make self driving cars if only everyone followed the damned rules. The simplified laws of physics applicable to driving are simpler than the DMV manual anyway.


>Tesla's Autopilot already has a fatality on its record because it couldn't differentiate the color of the sky with the color of a truck.

Do you think in your wildest dream that this exact scenario would ever be allowed to happen again by Tesla engineers? It may have crashed causing a fatality in this instance but it doesn't mean the prospect of camera only vision systems need to be written off. What people often overlook is that these systems get stronger with more and more edge cases and objectively the Tesla team are doing outstanding work with the sensor package that they have.


> But in what world is computer vision perfect?

I'd guess the same world where human vision is perfect...


Sure, but what is the reduction in accidents for just cameras vs all three? Super-human might only be reglatorial approved in the absence of technology being available with high safety.


No doubt turning many car companies into the new Android phone developers.


I'm curious where Tesla fits into this scheme. In terms of road miles, I reckon Tesla would have Waymo beat easily. They have far too many cars on the road and thus, way more data.

Does this factor into the quality of self-driving tech at all?


It's not that simple though. What so you consider "data" when it comes to self driving cars? Waymo collects high resolution data with every car (multiple GB or possibly TB of data per car per day).

Tesla hasn't sent very high resolution data back home yet. Though they are looking to get video from customers now to help make this go faster[0].

So while Tesla has more vehicles on the road, that doesn't mean they are getting better data for self driving car research.

[0] https://electrek.co/2017/05/06/tesla-data-sharing-policy-col...


They may not be sending data back home via the mobile network, but you can bet your boots they make exhaustive logs of Autopilot disengagements and store them locally to be siphoned off at the next service.

I wonder if they have WiFi base stations collecting data at Supercharger points? That's what I'd do.


> exhaustive logs of Autopilot disengagements

That would still be only one slice of the many many situations you need to master, and that Waymo already has. E.g. something as simple as entering and exiting a small roundabout, like that YouTube video showed a Tesla couldn't do. Miles driven by Tesla owners aren't purposefully looking for those situations when they engage autopilot.


Are you sure? Again this is just how I'd do things, but after I had a bunch of disengagement snapshots, the next thing I'd do is start taking snapshots of similar situations. We live in an age of easy and super-accurate image classification, it wouldn't be too hard to start a snapshot every time the front camera view contains a roundabout.


What I'm trying to say is that the number of cars on the road and miles driven aren't what matter to their autopilot learning, when compared to other self-driving companies. Most people use their car to go places comfortably, not to look out for learning experiences for Tesla.

With how long commutes are in the US, a very very small fraction of miles driven by people on autopilot will be other than "the car was already on the highway, autopilot changed lanes a few times, and after a while was manually disengaged to take an exit".

That small fraction is what could be compared with the miles and number of cars driven by the other companies, because in the latter case it's hired drivers actively looking for conditions of interest to the engineers.


Why not use owner's home network?


I definitely wouldn't be happy about Tesla uploading gigabytes of data on my metered connection. Even if it was unmetered, most people don't have very fast up-speeds and that could take days to upload and heavily impact their speeds. Absolutely unacceptable.


What if they had agreement with xfinity/comcast, which opens up a separate wifi hotspot anyway?


Do owners generally connect their cars to their home wifi? (I don't know, is this a thing with Teslas?)

Even if so, uploading gigabytes of data every day is going to be noticed. While I'm sure they have the legal right to do so (via their TOS / EULA) they probably still don't want to emphasize that they're gathering that much data (unless you opt in to their fleet learning stuff).


>Do owners generally connect their cars to their home wifi?

Generally I think they do to access the Tesla App features. Tesla also have a network connection so they may already be uploading the information anyway over cell networks.


Tesla's don't connect to LTE networks by default?

If not, I find it shortsighted and rather cheap that each car doesn't have it's own $50/month data plan (or whatever) to phone home important data.


Teslas do connect to LTE. Why would they pay that much for a data plan? In the US, you can get mobile hotspot plans for $3/month + $10/gbyte. That's the consumer price; wholesale over 100s of thousands of cars has got to be cheaper.


At 80k new cars a year that's a 4mil a month waste of money. Tesla couldn't survive giving each car a 50/mo data plan forever.


Waste of money?

To have a constant high speed IoT-like connection to the web for real-time updating and such?

I am sure some sort of volume discounts could be negotiated as well.


The logs might be pretty big, so it might have a significant impact on people on metered internet connections.


Not if it's only greyscale camera data and some point cloud data which is heavily compressible.


But then you're back to square one : that data is much less detailed than what waymo gets.


Machine vision is usually an exercise in data reduction. Greyscale is typically used in most computer vision applications, so it may be the case that Waymo has more information but that is not necessarily of any benefit.


The video has constant motion though, which makes compression much less effective.


As of 2013 Google's self-driving cars collected about 1 GB per second of data [1], today it must be even more. There is no way Telsa can upload nearly as much data from customer's cars. I also belief that their team is smaller and they started much later.

[1] http://www.kurzweilai.net/googles-self-driving-car-gathers-n...


You shouldn't need to upload the entire 1gb. The central AI can query the cars to get just the bits it has questions about. Part of the AI's job is learning which data to care about and which data to ignore.

The fact that the trees got new leaves again this year and it's dark at 2am and the sign at the Chinese Restaurant is still red don't to be relayed.

More data isn't automatically better. The hard part isn't getting some magical quantity of data the hard part is asking the right questions of it.

A self driving system needs to solve this problem (the frame problem) anyway. So you get intelligence compression for "free".

In a sense, intelligence is compression.


This is naive. You don't know what data you will care about in a year. The ability to have and keep all the data is incredibly valuable.


Why do so many on HN feel the need to structure their responses like this:

> Something Rude. Real argument, which is stronger with first sentence removed.

You may be right (or wrong, I don't know) but opening with rudeness or insults makes it more difficult to have meaningful conversations.


Rudeness? Insults? I said "this is naive", not "you are naive."

Surely we're all adults and can talk about ideas candidly without having to beat around the bush and tell each other little white lies.

A while ago you told someone, "You speak in broad generalizations that miss many points and make many faulty assumptions. "

Any difference between your statement and mine comes down to how individuals respond to specific words. How about we rise above such pettiness and focus on the subject matter?

You've added nothing to this discussion and have wasted people's time.


> You've added nothing to this discussion and have wasted people's time.

What is your response doing?


Historic data is certainly usable. I'm not sure where your idea comes from that it often provides value far beyond what's in the short term cache.

What makes you believe that?

How many things happened today that won't happen next week, somewhere?

And please don't call me naive. That's rude. Disagree substantively; use your words.


You have essentially just described distributed learning. Only transmit the gradients back to the central server, not the data.


That'd be one way of doing it. You could also just send the cars experimental queries to upload, and still do the leaning centrally.


Wow. I reckon this must be even more now.

Google is also a better computing company than Tesla, I imagine, whose strength is hardware, not software.


Very first sentence of your source says "Google’s self-driving car gathers 750 megabytes of sensor data per SECOND!", here goes one fourth of the alleged 1GB.

Then this is about sensor data or raw data, but there is thing known as compression which is quite common and can shrink size by an order of magnitude.

75MB/s seems closer to reality and manageable.


Last week Tesla began collecting short sections of video data from those with their new in-house Autopilot hardware. So really, Tesla's just getting started, and they're doing it with underpowered sensors and compute.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/8/15581094/tesla-autopilot-u...

Waymo was ahead of where Tesla is now back in 2012. In a demonstration capacity, Waymo's cars were working 5 years ago, but in the intermittent time Waymo has been validating their software against every possible edge case they might encounter on a real world situation, and Tesla will have to do the same one way or another before their autonomous OS can operate safely without a babysitter.


It is a matter of point of view, how many waymo car have been sold to customers ? how many waymo cars are out of the waymo car factories every months ?

There are several things to tackle and different approaches to things, the DARPA grand challenge is the practical one and waymo did not took part in any edition AFAIK.


From Waymo's wiki page: "Google's self driving car project was formerly led by Sebastian Thrun (...). Thrun's team at Stanford created the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and its US$2 million prize from the United States Department of Defense. The team developing the system consisted of 15 engineers working for Google, including Chris Urmson, Mike Montemerlo, and Anthony Levandowski who had worked on the DARPA Grand and Urban Challenges."


How many people have died in Waymo cars?


The miles aren't equal, though. Waymo's cars have an amazing array of sensors on them, including 360 degree LiDAR, which Teslas don't have.


teslas don't have lidar, so it's hard to say how useful their data will be in the long term


True, but if it turns out LIDAR is overkill and that self-driving can be done with only cheaper sensors (cameras), Waymo might be behind the curve on the use-case that the market will opt for.


When it comes to your safety, would you rather overkill or underkill? Especially when it comes to something as important as self-driving, I think it's absolutely reckless to try to "maximize profit" and "get it out there ASAP".

It would be an absolutely disaster if the technology as a whole gets a horrible reputation, or even worse, banned in places, just because some company skipped some steps and wanted to be the first or cheapest to the market.


I'm sure that Google gathers so much data from human drivers using Google Maps and Waze that they can build a decent model.


Why do you think Google maps data would be as useful as the camera and steering input data Tesla can collect?


Why do you think Tesla is able to collect all or any of the camera and steering input data? And what proof do you have that the little they are able to get off is actually at all valuable.


Ok, fine, we don't know what either company is collecting, but google maps can ONLY collect GPS and speed data, whereas Tesla has the POTENTIAL to collect gps, speed, camera, steering input, braking input, and acceleration input.


Yes and no. In the bay area and other big cities Teslas are definitely there but there are a lot of other areas in the country where Waymo probably spent the money to drive and collect data. So we probably will not know the reality.


Volvo / zenuity are also doing well. They'll probably have the first level 4 cars in public hands. It remains to see who can get to level 5. https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/27/11518826/volvo-tesla-auto...


Hmm, do they/you have any concrete numbers to back this up?

For example, Uber has a disengagement rate of once per 0.9 mile, whereas Waymo shows numbers higher up at 5000+ miles.

The California DMV report [0] has numbers for a couple other companies that tested in California. The other runners ups are Nissan and BMW with 247 and 638 miles respectively. Still an order of magnitude behind. But Volvo isn't there, and I'm curious to see concrete numbers. Because no amount of press and videos really means anything. Anyone can come up with a video of the car doing a nice ride. Google published one of those in 2009. It's spent the last 8 years perfectly that. That's the hard part, making it work in all cases, not just for one video.

[0] https://www.wired.com/2017/02/california-dmv-autonomous-car-...


I don't have any numbers but they say they are going to set them off driving members of the public this year. Have to see if they deliver.


It's hard to say how comparable those numbers really are. One manufacturer could be only driving routes that they know are the most challenging for their system, and another could be running laps on the freeway.


That's a good point, though it's still the closest to a quantitative number we have. I would love if the government actually forced some more rigorous quantitative testing on these cars, some way we can compare apples to apples. A lot of companies are making all sorts of crazy bold claims but I'd like more concrete evidence before I put my life in their hands.


I believe that Waymo are killing it, but... their desire to not be a car company and just write the software makes me wonder what their plan is to become a serious driver of Alphabet profit.

Unless they have made some real breakthroughs and are managing to somehow keep them under wraps (seems unlikely), optimistically they have a 5 year lead on their competitors.

5 years is a good amount of time to be the only people with self-driving tech, but unless they actually use it to muscle in on some other industry it seems like they will be reduced to just another component supplier when enough competitors eventually catch up.


They seem to have gotten a lot more serious since forming Waymo. In just a few months, they started the actual public trial in Phoenix as well as make this deal with Lyft. Seems like they've finally understood the urgency and have stepped on the pedal.

I don't understand your claim that they have to be a car company though. With this deal, it seems like they are (at least for now) targeting ride sharing, and arguably that's a much better use of the technology for many reasons.

For example, you don't have to worry about parking, you can put limits on where the car drives, you own the cars so you can track them, collect data and transfer it as you wish.

Also, wasn't Uber valued higher than Tesla, at least a few months back? So arguably as a business, it's as good if not better than being a car company, at least for now until the tech gets even better.


It does seem Waymo is going the path of the component supplier (at least right now). While they have the active partnership with Fiat Chrysler, there was a report[0] in December that they were in talks with Honda as well. Then from reddit pointed out a job posted for Waymo looking for people that speak Japanese[1].

[0] https://www.recode.net/2016/12/21/14046496/waymo-alphabet-ho...

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/SelfDrivingCars/comments/67w27p/fia...


I don't think Waymo necessarily needs to build cars, they could try to be Uber, they could try to be FedEx, they could try to be Seamless. I don't really have a good opinion on what they should be, just that I don't think they will make enough money as a supplier to justify all the risk they've taken.

Maybe they can make some deals where they give a company exclusive access to self-driving tech for a given industry for a significant equity stake in that company, but I feel like no-one would really want to take that deal.


Partnering with others sounds like a much faster route to getting into the hands of consumers (and therefore getting money).

Having to also create and scale up production of a car as well sounds harder and much riskier.


I'm assuming you mean the first ones without human chaperones? Because I've seen plenty of self-driving Uber cars shuttling passengers around the streets of SF over the past year.


I thought Uber stopped that program after the red light thing? I assume they mean the same though because Google have had self driving cars in Mountain View for years - this article claims 2 million miles last October : https://www.wsj.com/articles/googles-self-driving-car-progra... I'm not sure how that stacks against competitors but I imagine they're a long way ahead.


Uber backed down, though I would say I've only seen them once and not "plenty".

http://fortune.com/2017/03/27/uber-self-driving-cars-san-fra...


They did, but they've resumed again recently.


I see them running every day in Tempe, Az.


Ever heard of the DARPA Grand challenge ? The first edition way in 2004 and the project aim is to have one third of US ground military vehicles autonomous by 2015. It seems the US DoD has a quite a headstart on waymo.


From Waymo's wiki page: "Google's self driving car project was formerly led by Sebastian Thrun (...). Thrun's team at Stanford created the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and its US$2 million prize from the United States Department of Defense. The team developing the system consisted of 15 engineers working for Google, including Chris Urmson, Mike Montemerlo, and Anthony Levandowski who had worked on the DARPA Grand and Urban Challenges."


> the project aim is to have one third of US ground military vehicles autonomous by 2015

And was it successful?


> Waymo will have the first self driving cars on the road

Which are still way, way off in the future (if ever).

I propose 'self-driving cars' are the 'flying cars' of our generation: Something that seems inevitable and just around the corner, yet here we are.


There is an important difference. "Flying cars" was always a media and popular culture thing - the vast majority of experts thought they were a long way off, if ever. This is not true of self driving cars.

Self driving cars are also a pop culture thing - and the most aggressive deadlines and comprehensive deployments predictions are unlikely.


Let me take the contrarian side and say you will have small 1-2 seat Self-Flying vehicles before Self-Driving Cars.


Except flying cars would require an entirely new transportation infrastructure. Self-driving cars adapt to what's already in place.


5 years.


With how much Google had previously invested in Uber, without the Waymo lawsuit it's safe to say this deal would have been struck with Uber instead. Has nottt been a good few months for Uber, and Lyft has really taken advantage.


In June 2015 Uber acquired a bunch of mapping assets from Bing, and hired away ~100 engineers from Bing's mapping program to develop their own maps (I don't know what the current status is on that initiative), which was the first signal that, for whatever reason, Google and Uber weren't planning any sort of long term strategic partnership. But Google holds itself to high ethical standards, and I doubt Google expected to Uber to behave so badly. I mean, Uber has always behaved badly, but up until the point they stopped being the underdog we were all cheering Uber on.


Maybe it would have, since Uber was exploring their own program and would love to own the whole stack. I see the Uber investment as a hedge, where Alphabet can afford significant stakes in all the horses in the race.


When I use lyft now, I'm coming across drivers that only drive for lyft. The tide has definitely shifted against Uber. I'm not really sure there's a way back at this point. The one advantage Uber had was network effect, but in my experience that has diminished. Lyfts come just as fast as Ubers now because they have enough drivers on the road to support the response time. I'll never go back to Uber.


I'd say this assessment is clouded by your own judgements of Uber. Uber is vastly larger than Lyft. I've taken Uber's all over the world (Europe, South America), Lyft barely has market penetration in rural areas of the United States.

I recently bet my friend who is supremely confident that United Airlines business will be significantly impacted due to the passenger incident. Thus far, it appears United is doing just fine[1], in fact they may be on pace for a blowout Q2 quarter. Money in the bank.

Moral of the story... These types of negative incidents (In my opinion I call it the constant outrage complex) rarely affects finance fundamentals of solid businesses. If you want to take a moral stand against Uber you are absolutely entitled to that and that is fine with me.

[1] https://www.thestreet.com/story/14125827/1/united-reports-7-...


I'm in no position to guess which way winds are blowing but...

I don't think uber (or lyft) will ever be totally dominant purely because of network effects. Passengers and (especially) drivers are mobile, and can switch services back and forward between apps. All you need to compete is a regional network. The global network is helpful on the margins, but an uber for Lisbon should work fine.


Anecdata to support your point: in Stockholm the taxi companies have caught up in terms of convenience vis-à-vis apps, registering payment methods etc., to the point where I just use them rather than Uber. To me, Uber never competed on price, it was the convenience, and the competition has caught up to the point where Uber now seems clunky almost.


Uber definitely competes on price. Their fares are almost always the lowest of any competitor, especially compared to traditional cabs. That's essentially their only strategy other than allowing mobile hailing & payment (which is not particularly hard to replicate). The reason Uber is blowing through so much venture capital is because they are bleeding cash in all directions on fare subsidies.


Sure, in general, but this is why I wrote "to me" as in I don't care about he price difference. (Which, btw, in Stockholm is not very significant.) My account was simply meant as an anecdote to support the parent comment, that a local alternative can compete quite successfully. In my case, the convenience was key, not cost. That said, if they were consistently half the price of regular taxis I might reconsider. But only might because it's unclear to me who's responsible if things go missing during my trip, if there's an accident or the likes. With the traditional cab companies in Stockholm it's very clear who to turn to.

But I agree with you in the general case, certainly.


Are you willing to let Uber spy permanently on you in order to save a few bucks?

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/uber-track-location-data-upda...


Not suggesting that this is the difference between it being worth it or not for an individual person, but I didn't feel like taking an Uber this time out of LAX and did a traditional cab to Pasadena -- it was $90. The Uber app quoted me at $38 and $33 if I had wanted to do pool (side note, I've ridden pool 3 times between LAX and Pasadena and not once have they ever picked up another passenger).

A savings of $50 for a one way trip is definitely at the point where the "spying" is worth it for me.


And it's not permanently. It's for a few minutes after drop off.

Assuming you trust them.


  Assuming you trust them.
Well, in my book that's exactly the rub. I, for one, don't trust them at all.

Pulling that extra effort to track Apple devices even after the app has been deleted and other shenagigans they pulled in violating their customer's privacy doesn't really help in the trust building department:

https://m.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/24/uber_cloaked_its_spyi...


But the finance fundamentals of Uber are truly horrible.

Their only explanation for literally lighting billions of dollars in funds on fire to subsidize rides is supposedly to consolidate market share. If they don't have a defensible position and they lose money on every transaction what exactly do they have to show for it?


> literally lighting billions of dollars in funds on fire

Figuratively. But even that's not true, since customers have saved real money and spent it elsewhere.


So, uber is really a secret socialist scheme to redistribute wealth from the investors to uber's customers?


Heh, it's kind of funny when you look at it like that. It's the opposite of the typical fleecing scheme, wherein a publicly owned company enriches the big guys at the little guys' expense (a la Enron). Uber is doing the opposite, since it isn't publicly traded and only has large rich investors: They're saving lots of little guys' money on car fares at the expense of the few big guy investors.


For now.

Their plan, as far as I can see, is to totally dominate the market. Once, and if that happens, they will raise their prices, and once again the little guy's money will be going in the pockets of the big guys.


On a short enough timescale sure. On a longer one it is exactly the opposite: a play to redefine and own the future of automotive transportation.


I should start using Uber more often if that is true.



Well that's.... Sad. I think I will take what little authority I (don't) have and veto that definition, seeing as it literally defeats the purpose of definition #1.

And I was invoking definition #1 there, in case that wasn't clear.


Language changes, and as speakers of modern English, we should adapt to changes instead of tilting at that particular windmill. However, I commiserate with you over the transformation of a useful word into yet another synonym for "really".


It's not quite as bad as you think, literally is usually used figuratively in "A is literally B" to indicate that while A is obviously not literally B, the outcome that A will have will be practically the same as that from B.


That's actually a pretty reasonable defense of what I've generally considered a cringe worthy usage of the word "literally".


It's essentially a contronym now.

Not unlike "egregious" [1].

[1] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/egregious


"Sad" used to mean "sated". Why are you spreading the incorrect usage perpetuated by fools in the 1690s? These days nobody understands me when I use the true definition.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&searc...


It's one thing when a word evolves. It's another thing entirely when the evolution is the opposite of the original meaning. So let's not get condescending when it's more than a simple shift in meaning, okay?


I guess it's a little different but it happens all the time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-antonym#Examples

Also, "sad" and "sated" aren't quite opposites but they're very different. Are you telling me you wouldn't be annoyed if people started talking about how sad they were at the end of a great meal?



That makes no sense. It's like saying that "yes" means "yes", but it could also mean "no".




I wish this had never happened and I will probably use a different dictionary from now on.



Oxford supports MW [1]. And so does common usage.

[1]: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/literally


Eternal shame on merriam-webster.


A dictionary that fails to document usage is a lot worse than one that documents usage you don't like.


A good dictionary will also document widespread distaste for particular usages, though. It's a losing battle with any intensifier -- we've already lost "really" and "very" to this problem, and "literally" will pass too. That doesn't mean it's not worth trying to extend its life a little longer, though.

("Objectively" is also being used as an intensifier in casual conversation, though I think always with a touch of irony... Good fun.)


Did they add this bit today?

Should literally be used for emphasis?

Sense 2 is common and not at all new but has been frequently criticized as an illogical misuse. It is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis, but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary.


yeah we may have won the battle but not the war. I have currently taken it upon me to use "figuratively" improperly and I won't stop until all language has lost meaning.


Sure Uber is losing gobs of money, but that's not the most important metric at this stage for them. Look at Tesla, they lost 330 million in 2017 Q1. You absolutely will find bears against Tesla, but that's mainly because of its current $324 share price, not its fundamental business which is losing money.


>>Sure Uber is losing gobs of money, but that's not the most important metric at this stage for them. Look at Tesla, they lost 330 million in 2017 Q1.

Apples and oranges. Tesla is losing money because they are investing massive amounts of capital to improve their supply chain and production capabilities. Uber is losing money because they subsidize rides to try to push competitors out of business. Tesla is actually profitable. Uber? We don't know.


"Uber is losing money because they subsidize rides to try to push competitors out of business."

?? I think thats the wrong way to phrase this. Uber is loosing money as Uber and its competitors are giving a lot of incentives to drivers to win business. All of them are loosing money.


It is interesting that you and him describe essentially the same mechanism with different words. I would personally call it dumping.

In effect, Uber is selling something at a lower cost than it buys, in order to acquire the market.


Note that all companies in the ride-sharing market are doing the same thing, not just Uber. Uber in fact looses less money than Lyft per ride.


I think the original statement was accurate. And it's not working. Uber will have a rough awakening.


Uber doesn't even have competitors in many markets they expanded to. Well, save for traditional taxis.


Yes, taxis and public transportation are Uber's main competitors.


but then what is the most important metric for Uber?

AFAIR they are not growing as fast as they were, and have been all but outlawed in many places already.


Actually there are only a handful of places in the US where Uber is banned. Contrary to popular belief (and intentionally propagated by smear campaigns), Uber wasn't banned in Austin TX... they pulled out of that market voluntarily.


That's like believing a politician is ACTUALLY resigning to spend more time with their family.


You are so wrong I don't know where to start.

You're talking about a situation where a politician resigns to avoid being impeached or otherwise deposed.

That has basically zero to do with Uber and Lyft leaving Austin. We know exactly what laws Austin has (laws are not secret). And it's not like it's remotely unclear what happened: Uber and Lyft left in protest of the law requiring background checks for them. You could speculate that they were trying to strong-arm Austin into repealing that law, but it didn't work.

But there's zero reason to believe that they were secretly forced out, unlike the case with the politician, where the incentives are obvious.


If I enter a market, then the market penalizes me for breaching its rules, and I pull out, I am not calling it "voluntary".


Why talk about the US? It's only one market of many. In many other countries Uber has been banned.


Yeah, this is a really pervasive attitude on HN and tech in general. By not taking that path WhatsApp has pretty much locked down the international messaging market, so it's a stupid attitude too.


I guess Uber loses money on each sale but makes it up on volume? :)


This thread is about Uber, but in my opinion United will not be largely affected because they have a quasi monopoly on many routes, especially out of Newark.

[1]https://futuretravel.today/united-airlines-should-go-out-of-...


Although Uber has a better market penetration right now, it seems each day we're getting closer to the tipping point for Uber. Once Uber loses traction and grip, what prevents the now uber driver to switch to become lyft drivers ? People looking for rides do not care if it's uber or lyft or something else as long they have a ride and it's not too expensive.

United Airlines having a good Q2 quarters will not help Uber in any way escape the trial vs google or suddenly give them a profitable business model other than let's burn through investor money and conspire to get google technology to get rid of the drivers in the not so distant future.


> what prevents the now uber driver to switch to become lyft drivers ?

The (non)availability of Lyft all over the world except one country. According to some quick googling, Uber exists in 80 countries without Lyft.


I think the point OP is making is that Uber doesn't really own anything outside mindshare. The drivers are after all free agents. Once the VC money used to subsidize rides dries out basically any company can challenge Uber.

Which is why Uber wants to cut their dependence on drivers by using self driving cars. Then they will actually own something (the technology) in addition to the mindshare.


I just think that this will take possibly a very long time. Lyft wants to stay in the US and just partner with services in other countries. So new ones need to pop up and not suck (I tried a local South African one, besides no available drivers where I was, the app was absolutely horrible) AND manage to survive long enough to actually be a relevant service compared to uber.


They own the process knowledge to operate a Taxi company in 80 countries. Atleast what I have see in India they are beating OLA another competitor like Lyft.


I'm not really seeing how knowing how to sell two dollar bills for one dollar in 80 different countries is really all that valuable.


Because few people make four dollars in the same amount of time it takes for the exchange to happen. So they are choosing it for a different reason. It's possible you may not be seeing the value in the service they provide. But for me personally they are as revolutionary (execution) as Amazon and Facebook.

To kill the any future competition they jut need to start a global loyalty program.


Such incidents set the climate for the debate that is perhaps relatively unimportant for United but critical for Uber: regulation.


Uber in Europe stopped expanding and is very different in some places. For instance in Berlin you hail normal cabs with it.


It can be argued that the very significant changes United made to their training and rebooking procedures are the business impact. Just because they were able to quickly triage and come up with a workable solution I wouldn't say they weren't impacted.


Yes, another example is Wells Fargo, stock not that much affected - yet. It takes time, but consumer sentiment is eventually unstoppable like water wearing down rock


Odd. I'm in the Bay Area and have taken many Lyft's lately both in the south bay and also the peninsula. Usually the drivers I get drive for both even up to this point.

Could just be regional, not really sure? I feel like even with Uber's issues many drivers who do ride-sharing as a "job" won't want to just drop Uber as it may mean losing out on income (not sure if they can make up the loss with driving more for Lyft).


In Chicago and Richmond atleast the drivers I've talked to that are doing it for a full time job tend to drive Uber, Lyft and every other small start up in the area. The drivers that aren't just getting started said they use Uber for volume but will take a Lyft over Uber because of the better pay. The only drivers I've had that are Uber only are just getting started/trying it out.

The drivers I've talked to that just do it for a little extra cash overwhelmingly prefer Lyft. Most said it is because of the better pay but I've also heard more than once that Lyft customer's tend to be more well behaved in the car for whatever reason.

To be fair, this is all anecdotal and I usually prefer not making chit-chat but if the driver insist I always ask them their preference since the driver's always have an opinion that is interesting enough for the duration of the ride.


> I've also heard more than once that Lyft customer's tend to be more well behaved in the car for whatever reason.

I have also heard this as well from lyft drivers and I am very curious as to why


Just speculation, but if you are willing to boycott a business for being shitty, you likely aren't going to go out and be a shitty passenger yourself. I'm sure that isn't all of it, but I could see it having a partial effect.


I know some passengers (myself included) prefer Lyft because they do more driver vetting. For instance, to drive for Lyft you actually have to have someone from Lyft get in the car and ride around with you, which is not a requirement for Uber.

Perhaps the people who value that sort of thing are better behaved? Or more likely, it's probably because the people who are willing to pay slightly more for a better experience are better behaved (like Walmart vs Target).


Anecdata: Before I deleted Uber, I had two bad interactions with drivers (including one who threatened violence in response to I have no idea what, some misunderstanding). Since only using Lyft: zero.

That also stand in contrast to exactly one two experiences with cabbies over ~25 years.

I conclude, based on my limited personal experience, that vetting drivers makes a noticeable difference in driver quality.


Have any of them told you how the pay is higher at Lyft? They both take 25%.

Edit: tips?


Also odd. I'm in San Francisco and I've found most drivers that only drive for Lyft too. When I talk to drivers (now I talk with every driver out of curiosity), they genuinely hate Uber. Maybe they were once Uber, but they've moved networks.


Maybe they are confirming to leading questions.


How often do you use uber?


I'm in Philadelphia and for a few months drove ~2,000 business miles for Lyft only, 0 for Uber. Not sure how much that's worth. I considered driving for Uber as well, but only if I planned to drive tens of thousands of business miles, which I decided not to do at all (got a job).

As a passenger, I exclusively use Lyft.


Ive taken a ton of lyfts (and Ubers before the scandals) in the NYC and Philly areas and have never seen a lyft driver who didn't also have an Uber sticker on the windshield. This is not the case with most Uber drivers in my experience, who only drive for Uber (again mostly).


I'm in the bay area, and I've chatted about this with many drivers. People USED TO drive for both, but now Lyft has enough network traffic that they're too busy to flip between networks.


I had a couple drivers tell me they'd use Lyft until they had too many hours and we're forced to take a break, then they switch to Uber until the mandatory Lyft break is over. I forget how many hours they said they drive on average, but it was a lot.


People doing ride sharing as their main gig in your area are likely desperate for every extra dollar.

I'd say they would be one of the last places to transition.


Lyft barely exists outside of the US. Uber is still on top if you take a global view.


Lyft have a deal with Grab here in Southeast Asia. As I understand I can use Grab to book Lyfts in areas where Lyft operates and Grab doesn't (and vice versa).


Not (always) vice versa. In Ho Chi Minh, where Grab operates, I was not able to book using Lyft and had to install/setup Grab.


OK, but that is more of a convenience for American tourists who may not have a local phone number to sign up for Grab than an actual service. People that live outside the US are not going to have the Lyft app in the first place.



As a guy from India, what is Grab?


Ola from South East Asia


As I understand it Uber's profits from the US market (and VC money) is funding the global expansion. If Uber lose their dominant position in the US we should expect their plans in the rest of the world to stop quite quickly; they won't be able to afford them.


> and VC money

Yeah, this is pretty key. If Uber's dominant position in the US is slipping but there's still a clear way for them to emerge on top globally and cash is the limiting concern, it seems likely they'll be able to continue subsidizing international expansion with more VC money.


Unless this VC money goes to pay for trial expenses against google.


I think they should settle. Uber should give waymo whatever they asked for (which likely isn't money).


I think Waymo doesn't want to have Uber as a competitor. They want to shut them out of the market. A market that Uber needs to have a future.


Is Uber making profits in the US market?


Like the other reply said, Lyft's strategy is partnerships with local companies.


Yes but other services hurt uber in other markets (didi?).


Didn't Uber get a significant chunk of Didi stock when it agreed to exit china? I have no idea how uber is doing overall abroad but china didn't appear to be a total wash for them at least.


Uber received a 17.5% stake in Didi as part of the deal [1], which is worth ~8.75B given their most recent raise at a ~50B valuation [2].

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-28/china-s-d...

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/didi-chinas-uber-raises-5-5-bil...


Not that bad of an outcome really. I think Uber blew about $1 billion chasing after China.


Certainly nothing in London yet.


Yes.. as a bay area resident can confirm this. I switched totally to Lyft the past few weeks and have no issues finding a ride promptly. Also all drivers that I met seem to be driving only for Lyft.

PS: What convinced me to totally switch was this https://github.com/lyft/envoy, my way of saying thanks for the Lyft team.


This is bay area bubble mentality (I live downtown SF). Does not represent the vast majority of Uber's business and market.


I've observed a growth in Lyft drivers in Dallas, too.

When I first started using Lyft in 2014, there were many times when attempting to request a ride would return an error saying there are no nearby drivers, especially during rush hour (trying to get a ride at 8am was simply a no-go), and it wasn't uncommon for the nearest driver to be 20+ minutes away at various times of day. I actually heard a lot of drivers complain to me about how Lyft sends them pings from people ridiculously far away and saying that it would be better for all involved if Lyft didn't try to match people that far away and just returned an error instead.

Now? Neither of those situations have happened in recent memory. I can't remember the last time I got the "no drivers available" error, and at the absolute worst, I might get a driver 15 minutes away in the height of rush hour.

Edit: Forgot one more thing. I used to see drivers who had two phones for both Uber and Lyft all the time. Nowadays I don't see anyone doing that anymore.


Uber is present in 581 cities and 81 countries.

Lyft is present in 300 cities in America.

Having IT people in SF using Lyft instead of Uber is only a tiny change.


I think Uber has released tons more open source sw than Lyft. https://github.com/uber


I agree.. Just a small payback for something I personally use.


I have not taken Uber for a long time. Lyft is my first choice even if it takes a little longer and costs more. I really hope Lyft can catch up in terms of market share in the US.


I live in Seattle and I just don't prefer Lyft. 100% of the time Lyft's estimated time of arrival is wrong. They say your "lyft" is reaching in 3 minutes when I can clearly see it can't come even in 10mins. On the other hand Uber gives pretty good estimation.

Same goes with estimated cost of the ride. Uber tell me exactly how much I will have to pay while Lyft says $7-$12.


Uber has started allowing drivers to accept a new ride before they're done with the current one, as an incentive to keep driving (as opposed to ending their shift). I have had rides stuck in "Driver is finishing up a trip nearby" for 10 minutes or more. And I could see on the map that there were other available drivers around. I don't remember what the initial estimate is in those cases, but I think it's less than what it ends up being.


Its a neat feature actually. Taking up the next ride before finishing a previous one allows drivers to have no downtime, and thus increase their earnings; and for riders it allows them to get drivers sooner in cases where other available drivers are further away.


Neat for the driver, but for me, I cringe whenever I get that message, because I know I'll have to wait longer than usual. Those rides are always the slowest ones to arrive.


My friend was driving for Uber, but now exclusively drives for Lyft here in the Mid-Atlantic region. Lyft is giving those great incentives that Uber use to and he is making the same decent to good money he used to with Uber, but driving less.


I use Uber a lot, and most of the drivers don't use Lyft. So I am not sure whether one can use any anecdotal evidence like this to gauge anything.

One more thing -- even though the press is hitting on Uber with lot of negative articles -- lot of this appears to be because those articles sell. Lot of the negativity seems exaggerated or seems to be the result of incomplete facts provided (for example, Mike Isaac on NYT said Uber uses Slice Intelligence to get aggregate anonymous data on market conditions; he did not mention that Lyft also does the same and that most companies have competitive intelligence teams. There are many other examples like this).

I like Uber that they went ahead and got cities to recognize the need for ride-sharing -- they were the first so they had to fight the regulations and entrenched taxi industry. In the end, that benefitted everyone - riders getting convenient, inexpensive rides, and drivers getting livelihood. Uber's competitors also benefited as the market was created by Uber already.


I just had a really bad experience with Uber myself. Here's my data point:

I was just trying to get an Uber the other day in a large city and I waited over an hour in the rain. The first N-1 drivers that accepted my request cancelled on me after 5 minutes.

Eventually, a driver picked me up. He didn't want to pick me up where I was, and had a very hard time communicating to me where he was. After some back and forth walks-100-ft-"Do you see me now?"-repeat for about 10 minutes, he asked me to just cancel the request.

I said no. I wasn't going to risk paying a fee to cancel. I was already waiting in the rain for an hour.

Eventually the driver found me and took me to my location. The whole ride was quiet until the driver decided to break the silence with full-volume anti-slavery rhetoric on the radio.

That day I learned that Uber's algorithms, whatever they are, led to at least a single very bad experience. I didn't downvote the driver. Instead, I just didn't rate him. That said, I'd say 95% of my Uber experiences were very good.


> The whole ride was quiet until the driver decided to break the silence with full-volume anti-slavery rhetoric on the radio.

You prefer pro-slavery rhetoric on the radio?


I find that Lyft has more consistent service availability than Uber in the Bay Area. If I have to take an early morning ride to the airport, I have had near 100% failure rate with Uber (maybe 1 or 2 times Uber has worked for me in that situation), and 100% success rate with Lyft.


I'm surprised this is so up-voted, but I guess it's the general opinion here at hackernews.

Is there any real data out there on this? Talking to 10 drivers in one region of the US seems like a far cry from the kind of information you want to have to form an opinion on how the tides are shifting.

At the end of the day, there are still lots of reasons why Uber might not be slipping away as we think, and I think we would all benefit from at least an effort towards breaking out of our bubbles.


Its largely a commodity product like oil, transport etc. They are mostly the same drivers. If Uber is doing the same thing cheaper a majority of people are going to use whatever service is cheaper. The fact that uber is giving you certainty on price also helps.


I wonder if when Uber finally craters if it will take the SF real estate market with it.


My weak anecdotal data is that both have suffered lately. I had a 20 minute projected wait on both services for a ride in a major city recently. This has to happened to me in years.


If Lyft had a black car option, I'd use them constantly; I wonder what keeps them from rolling that out.


Try Lyft Premier: https://blog.lyft.com/posts/introducing-lyft-premier

Or do you explicitly want a black car...?


I explicitly want a commercially-licensed driver, which is what you get with Uber Black.


Why do you need black cars specifically? More professional?


Not the poster you're responding to, but in my experience the black car service is head and shoulders above uberx or normal lyft - drivers actually _know_ the cities they're driving in, there's no bs about tipping or wanting you to go to some odd pickup location that's more convenient for them, or canceling sketchily because your destination is out of their way. It's just press a button, get a reliable professional ride, no hassle, which was uber's original value proposition, but which you can't get with their standard service anymore.


Not GP but I use them for clients.

For personal use I'd be fine with a rickshaw.


At this point, some clients would be offended just for ordering an Uber for them, black car or not.


Huh? Why?


Have you seen the #DeleteUber backlash? Do you think the people who participated in that would appreciate having an Uber called for them?


If you are in London and you have got to get that famous child prodigy to the film studio with chaperone and teacher then you will be ordering them an Addison Lee private hire vehicle or better. A regular cab or some unlicenced 'Uber' gig-economy 'cab' isn't going to cut it.

I expect that other parts of the world are the same.


That's not really in the spirit of the question. That same famous child prodigy with chaperone might be upset if you brought them a coke without pouring it in a crystal glass. My reading of the "Why?" question was curiosity about more typical clients.


> an Addison Lee private hire vehicle

As a Londoner: Huh? AddLee minicab drivers are infamous for being even more aggressive/xenophobic/inappropriate than black cab veterans. "Premium" they ain't.

But sure, if you want good service for the pampered "talent", you get a premium German private hire car, not the average Essex barrowboy...


I had an UberLUX in London a few months ago and I had a very nice experience with a professional chauffeur (complete with black suit) in a Mercedes S-Class.

Uber services aren't all Priuses with signs saying "Please rate 5-stars!" hanging off the front-seat head-restraints.


Yeh, in my experience UberLUX cars in London have all been chauffeurs picking up Uber work between booked chauffeur jobs.


This could be a longer term death blow for Lyft, ironically. If Google has the self driving tech, the car & car partnerships, the money, maps, access to end consumers, what exactly does it need Lyft for? Lyft will be a vehicle for Google to kickstart and test this out with a current ride sharing network before Lyft is cut off ...


If Google/Waymo wants to be running the whole business end-to-end, they'll buy up Lyft for its established network. If not, then Lyft will just be the pilot customer, and will probably end up competing with later customers.


To further suffocate Uber by supporting their direct comptetitor ?

To signal other would be poachers and tech snatchers that you don't mess with the Google ?

To experiment outside of the google brand ?

To test waters before buying Lyft ?

To evaluate if it is better to enter the market providing rides to people or providing technology to companies providing rides to people ?

There are quite a few reasons for google to be a partner for lyft.


> To further suffocate Uber by supporting their direct competitor?

I see this as one of the primary motivating factors.

> To test waters before buying Lyft?

I don't foresee this happening, at least not the current iteration of Lyft. With the rise of autonomy, I can see Lyft pivoting in one of two directions: autonomous fleet ownership and management, or management of the use of individuals' personal autonomous vehicles while they would otherwise sit unused.

Google has the capital to purchase a fleet on its own, so I don't see Google buying Lyft if that becomes their primary business strategy. If it's the latter option, Google may see value in the Lyft brand. People are already working with Lyft to grind out supplemental income with their personal vehicles, so it may be an easier sell to potential vehicle-owners to go with Lyft.

> To evaluate if it is better to enter the market providing rides to people or providing technology to companies providing rides to people?

Definitely part of the story.


I think you are confusing the long term and short term outlook.

In the short term Waymo will have a very strong bargaining position because their technology is so advanced - Lyft cannot buy self driving tech from anyone else.

But in 10 years Lyft will be able to choose from a half dozen companies offering self driving tech. 'Ride sharing' will be a cut-throat commodity business like airlines, but Lyft won't be at a particular disadvantage compared to other companies in the industry.


And when Facebook came out with Google Plus, we all switched away from Facebook, right? All the engineering genius in the world couldn't do enough for Google Plus (hint: it's not the engineering), why would they do any better with supplanting Lyft unless they copied Uber and lit money on fire by offering free rides for a year like they did with (domestic US) phone calls.


Google Voice still does offer free domestic US calls. They kept renewing the one year free offer until they just declared it free indefinitely.


To extend your comparison, look at how much better buying YouTube was for Google than starting Google Video was.


Both Facebook and YouTube have very strong network effects protecting them from competition. A self-driving taxi service would have no network effect - a better analogy is to the airline industry.


But Waymo (and Apple) is no longer building cars, as they partnered with Fiat Chrysler. Turns out building cars is a pain in the ass.

If all you're building is the underlying technology, you NEED partnerships for an actual complete solution.


It's also unlikely a company will just switch over self driving tech. A lot of the technology all these companies have is proprietary and I highly doubt it will all be interchangeable.


Here's the thing. The end game is that Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers are out of a job as chauffeur.

However, the self-driving cars remain a capital expense that someone has to finance. I couldn't Google up numbers easily, but it looks like the number of ride-hailed vehicles is in the multiple millions in the US. 1,000,000 autonomous cars at $50,000 each is a $50 Billion-per-million capital expense. I'd guess that the capital is out there, but would it be that raising and deploying that much capital takes as long as developing the autonomous technology? Globally, why wouldn't this be a $1 Trillion spend? Can Uber and Lyft pull that off?


I have often thought of this as well. One option is that they still outsource the financing to local owners, not necessarily your traditional car owners, per say, but more like local companies that buy AVs and place them in service.

However, I think an interesting approach would be to use a traditional Project Finance scheme [0] to obtain cheap, non-recourse loans in order to acquire and deploy large fleets. These schemes are common for infrastructure projects, which occasionally amount to billions of dollars. Under such a scenario, then the actual owners might end up being entities familiar with setting up these deals, and Waymo et al selling the technology/cars/platform (arguably of higher margins).

[0]http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/projectfinance.asp


> The end game is that Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers are out of a job as chauffeur.

This is true, but as someone who grew up somewhere where there's snow on the ground 6 months out of the year, I'm wondering how we're going to deal with more extreme driving conditions. How reliable are these self-driving cars in ice and snow? Is there even a strong economic reason to solve this problem right now?

My concern is that we'll end up with a fleet of cars that work great 90% of the time, and then flat refuse to drive when they fall outside their design envelope. At that point driving will be a niche market: the pool of drivers for emergency vehicles (which can't just take the day off when it's snowing), and services in rural areas (where detailed maps and standard heuristics may fail) will be the only permanent workforce. Meanwhile anyone else with a licence will have to step in as a chauffeur when conditions get bad.


Considering most of the U.S. (primary market for self-driving cars) experiences snow and ice several months of the year, why wouldn't engineers spend time to make this work well? Is there something inherent about adverse weather that makes humans better at it?

The evidence is that anti-lock brakes and variable traction controls have lead to a reduction in crashes in adverse weather conditions. Driving in snow and ice is hard. Why wouldn't a system that can make much finer and frequent adjustments outperform people? The only thing that is really holding back self-driving systems is the computer vision aspect, which is mitigated with Lidar and by further research into computer vision improvements.


If they'd really want to do that, Alphabet has > $90B in cash.


The spend/build-out is even bigger than that because if these cars have no driver how to they refuel? Unless they've got a robot arm capable of doing that themselves they still need a human involved. As well as somewhere to do repairs and maintenance on the cars. Right now Lyft and Uber effectively out-source that to the owner of the vehicle. So whoever is doing this roll out doesn't just need the vehicles they also need the facilities to house, maintain, and fuel them. That infrastructure is, arguably, even bigger and more complicated than buying up the cars.


If the math works, the capital will flow. Even if the math doesn't work, the capital might still flow.


Uber and Lyft are pretty much the exact same thing in markets where both are available. hell, they even have the same set of drivers as many drivers sign on to both. I think time will prove that Lyft was quite undervalued compared to Uber, especially as autonomous vehicles hit the market.


Personally, there are nicer touches in the Lyft app- the colored signs, color-accurate picture of the make and model of the car, and generally friendlier driver instructions make getting into the car and riding more pleasant for me.


Not to mention the fact that you can easily tip, knowing how tough things are for drivers with base pricing.


My personal view is that the rates should be set such that tipping is not expected. That remains the main draw of Uber for me.


Tipping is actually expected by your Uber driver, though, despite what Uber says. The difference is that Lyft drivers will never know whether you tipped or not. Uber drivers, on the other hand, might give you a poor rating for not tipping.

As someone who also is skeptical of tipping, I can't for the life of me see why you'd prefer the Uber model.


Lyft actually has higher rates (for the driver) than Uber.


Can you add information? Their websites both claim that drivers earn 25% of the fare.


I don't always tip, but sometimes you meet a driver who deserves a tip or seems like they might need it and it's good to have the option to do that without using cash. The tip is entirely optional and $0 by default so there is really no downside to offering this option, even for people who will never use it.


I have tried to use Lyft, but the Uber's app design is much more user-friendly to me. I was confused by some of Lyft's ride selection options etc. Esp after the Uber redesign that happened a few months ago, it became much more easier and nicer to use.


The user interface and selection of ride products are basically identical where I live (SF Bay Area)


this will most likely amount to nothing or very little, waymo is also launching their own competing service at some point and lyft has other suppliers for cars (GM/Cruise), this will most likely be a stop gap and used as a a good headliner grab for both companies, just look at what happened to the short lived Lyft/Didi/Grab partnership that went up in smoke


I feel like Lyft is the underdog coming back to strike the killer blow to Uber... The year Uber has had I wouldn't be surprised to see them disappear altogether by 2018/2019. Lyft seems to be doing things a lot better, but helps that their CEO isn't out starting fires instead of putting them out.


Uber has monumentally pissed off its driver pool in India. They came out with huge incentives, told drivers that if they "invested" in the company by buying cars, they would benefit even more.

Now there are drivers who bought their cars and have car loans to pay. But Uber stopped the incentive spigot and suddenly drivers are earning half of what they were making earlier.

Most drivers I speak to here are struggling to pay off their car loans. Some have resorted to sleeping in their cars and driving 12-18 hours a day just to make ends meet (not ideal for drivers or passengers).

The moment someone comes in with even a remotely better offer, most of them will jump ship.


Uber has serious competition in India in the form of Ola -- and most drivers seem equally unhappy with both.

https://qz.com/908802/uber-and-ola-drivers-in-india-are-now-...


Interesting. I feel like there is no way Uber would be on the brink of bankruptcy and not be able to fundamentally change the problems that have persisted so far.

I guess what I'm getting at is that a company valued at 69 billion dollars going out of business in less than 2 years should be a surprise to everyone.


Valuation differs from cash in the bank.

Uber could be valued at a gazillion $, but if it can't make payroll in 90 days, it's got a problem that would be tough to fix, given the apparent lack of a profitable business model.


The recent figure for what it's worth (end 2016):

revenue $6.5 billion

losses excluding China $2.8 bn

$7 billion of cash on hand, along with an untapped $2.3 billion credit facility (bloomberg)

So they are not going bust tomorrow but whether they can build a real business from that is quite questionable.


Talk about biased numbers and interpretation.

Revenue is growing but losses are growing too, so revenue is not growing fast enough.

7 billions of cash means Uber will be broke in less than two years depending how much faster losses are growing compared to revenue.

Investors might become hesitant until they know where the lawsuit with google is going.

My interpretation is that, unless Uber finds a way to reverse steam and become profitable they are still around today but are on the way out and might be gone tomorrow.


At $2.8 B annual run rate, they'll be out of cash around 2018/2019, depending on their credit.


Yes, and even worse the 'auxiliary' services business seems to be doing very badly and is adding to cash burn, instead of increasing utilisation of their existing fleet.

UberEats for example is completely dying a death in London (this may be different for other markets). Speaking to a few restaurant chain owners they get virtually no orders through and the experience is terrible, because drivers get lost and the food gets cold. They then blame the restaurant and leave loads of bad reviews everywhere.

I genuinely think Uber has very limited network effects. The driver fleet can drive for other companies at the same time, the user will just use the app that is cheapest/works the best/has the best service. I don't see enormous stickiness there, and the other services they offer don't work well IMO.

nb. why on earth is ubereats a seperate app, for example? It should be in the same app.


Sure, but they could sell 1% of their company (loans, equity) and have one percent of a gazillion dollars.


Only if someone is actually willing to buy part of the company. The last person valuing it at a gazillion dollars doesn't mean that the next person will value it at a gazillion dollars.


Right. The point being, the first person was wrong.


The money doesn't roll in ad infinium


A company fueled entirely by venture capital that has no proven ability to make a profit, valued at 69 billion dollars should be a surprise to everyone.


It would only a surprise to people who may believe that companies are worth what they're valued, people who do not understand that investments are bets.

Ever heard of bubbles ? Well they inflate until they burst in a poof where a few trillions disappear.

Remember the dot com bubble bursting at the beginning of the 2000's ? Expect something similar in a not so distant future as the bubble cycle repeats itself.

So yes a 69 billion dollars market valuation for a company does not mean anything other than investors made a bet this company would somehow pay them back their money plus extra at some point.


Would they run the coffers dry though?

The answer might be yes and I'd go with yes, but if they're for some reason on what they see as a death spiral, they could return some investor money and call it quits.


Agreed. I imagine a more likely scenario is they slam on the breaks by raising prices and firing a bunch of people before they run out of money. This of course would tank the companies valuation and result in a big decline in ride traffic. I'd be really surprised to see uber completely go away. I think the worst case scenario would be for them to go public and have their valuation impload, I.e a groupon like outcome.


The surprise to me is the craziness of that valuation to begin with. And if they were able to make "fundamental changes", why wouldn't they have done it by now? Seems like the path to change will be more difficult with the loss of top execs, low internal morale, and difficulty hiring top talent moving forward. Maybe out of business in 2 years is agressive, but 5 years? Wouldn't surprise me at all.


Valuation is bullshit. When this bubble will burst a few trillion will go poof and the cycle will start over.

60+ billions valuation for a company losing over 2 billions a year or one third of their total revenue, seems like a big pile of horse manure.


Lyft - Uber might be a Facebook - MySpace story.


Actually, it's on a smaller scale but I was thinking a "Digg - Reddit" analogy was more appropriate.

Reddit was much smaller than Digg for years: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=2005-06-01%202... . Reddit was definitely "the little engine that could" for about 6 years, but it was really in 2010 when Digg imploded with the self-inflicted wounds of Digg v4 when Reddit really took off.

In other words, MySpace losing to Facebook seemed largely because Facebook just had a better product (cleaner, focused on real identities), while Digg, like Uber, largely was the victim of self-inflicted wounds.


I remember differently, the release of digg v4 was the last nail in the digg coffing and the tipping point happened about a year before that with the famous ncomment 'Digg vs Reddit' webcomics. When this got to digg front page, well, let's say it was right on point.

Sorry, I know flickr sucks but it seems ncomment original website is now gone, the comics survived on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/25036088@N06/sets/721576159246...


You maybe could argue the shift started earlier, but the floodgates really opened on Digg v4. I was one of the "Digg refugees" who joined reddit at that time, and there were hoards of others that did the same.


I mentioned the Digg vs Reddit analogy in relation to Uber/Lyft about a month ago...

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14054803


That's an interesting way to put it. Facebook seemed destined to overtake MySpace as it provided useful data connections (college courses/networks) and a uniform design that MySpace did not have. Lyft has pretty much been trying to be a drop-in replacement for Uber (to be fair, Uber nicked a few ideas from Lyft), with no projects like automation or even Uber's attempts at being a delivery service. If Lyft ends up winning, it's going to be a much more unexpected win than Facebook over MySpace.

Edit: the innovation of the News Feed can't be overstated. IIRC, MySpace had nothing like it and it's hard to remember Facebook before it.


I wonder why MySpace couldn't copy some of these features from FB.


If you were an early adopter of FB it was exclusive to college students and had a much, much more "mature" audience to myspace. That factor alone attracted a huge crowd that myspace couldn't touch. In terms of UI and whatnot, myspace never really forced/required users to use their real name which I also feel gave FB a huge advantage going forth. The rest of the UI myspace could have copied though (but by that time it probably was too late).


Myspace was designed from the get go to be sold to a big company so it has little inherent value.

Rupert Murdoch bought Myspace for quite a sum as an attempt to get into the online business because all their attempts failed miserably for a lack of understanding and vision. The same drove myspace to its expected outcome.


MySpace in that story might have not had $14.8b raised in capital.


So which one, Lyft or Uber, is the one being made for the purpose of being sold to a giant company ?


I'd just like to point out that we really don't want to Uber to die. The market will be healthier if Uber and lift are both successful.


Nah, we really do want them to die. Couldn't happen to a nicer company.

If it's competition you're concerned about: they have a well documented record of sabotaging their competition, rather than winning on merits. They're not good for the market they are in, which is bad for all of us.

There are also some other reasons we want them to die, relating to their being an abusive employer, which I'd like to think would have consequences for their reputation in our community.


I wouldnt want Uber to die. They were one who created the ride-sharing market and the industry fighting against all outdated regulations. They may have done "sabotaging" their competition once several years ago -- there's no record of them having done it in the last 2-3 years. Btw, Lyft also has done similar stuff.


The corporate espionage against Waymo happened in the past year.


Um, the article discusses an ongoing court case accusing them of industrial espionage last year, which may result in criminal prosecution.


I dont see Uber itself having done it. Levandowski was the one who downloaded the documents when he was a Google engineer. It has not been proven and is very unlikely that Uber asked him to download the documents or knew about it. If Uber did not know that he downloaded documents, then I dont see how Uber did the wrong thing here.

In fact, Google's Java lawsuit with Sun/Oracle seemed worse for Google to me, as Google empployees openly discussed in emails that they were violating licensing terms and still did it.


Nah. Uber and Lyft have left several cities that passed regulations they didn't like. In the case of Austin TX specifically there's now more choices of ridesharing services with significant market share, not less. The drivers also get paid better.

I think it's abundantly clear at this point that both Lyft and Uber use monopolistic anti competitive tactics.


Why? Are you thinking of competition in general? Because there is a lot of that in ride sharing just nothing as big as the two juggernauts in America.


I think competition in general for self driving cars, not for ride sharing.


Then the loss of Uber won't matter. Basically every car manufacturer is looking at this along with countless others. The market for self driving vehicles is so, so tiny and new that literally any (and many) could jump in and "win".


i don't want uber to die because subsidized fares are wonderful.


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