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Mexico City taxi drivers demand shut down of Uber, countering protest Uber provides free cabs

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Photo credit: https://twitter.com/Uber/media
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Photo credit: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/25/mexico-city-taxi-drivers-protest-uber
Photo credit: theguardian

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Hundreds of taxi drivers in Mexico City protested against the US taxi provider, Uber and demanded that the authorities should shut down this online ride service. Countering the protest, Uber provided free rides to customers throughout the day to drive all the criticism directed its way.

The drivers said that Uber and other ride-sharing services evade the tax, registration and safety laws that regular cabs are subjected to.

The event was organized by the Organized Mexico City Taxi Drivers association (TOCDMX). The demonstrators rallied across major parts of the city including  Paseo De La Reforma Avenue and Zocalo, Mexico city’s largest square.

“We have to pay for car taxes, taxi license plates, permits, and all the rest, while Uber drivers just pay for vehicle verification and that’s it,” Juan Luis Uscandia, a Mexico City driver told a news agency.

Addressing the rally, Taxi drivers’ leader Eleazar Romero said that, “we are not against technology. We just want a level playing field, we want everyone to follow the same tax rules we do.”

Responding to the protest, the company said on the website, “As today is a difficult day to get around, we have decided to give away Uber rides to all users, because #MexicoDoesntStop #UberDoesntStop.”

The San Francisco based company, Uber allows individuals who submit applications to offer transport services without their cars having any kind of special license.

In December 2014, the taxi drivers had filed a complaint against Uber for violating the mobility law of Mexico. According to IANS, the law’s Article 258 states that companies commit the crime of “illegal passenger or cargo transport” when they use vehicles lacking “a concession or permit issued by the (mobility) secretariat for those purposes.”

Uber has often been criticized for acting as an informal taxi service, undermining workers’ rights and forcing taxi drivers out of business.

BBC review of complaints against Uber show that customers have alleged misunderstanding regarding Uber Technologies’ pricing. They further alleged that consumers have difficulty in reaching out to a customer service representative to get their concerns addressed.

The free ride offer may appear enticing to the users at first, however, it can have grave effects in the long-run.

Exempted from paying car taxes or possessing license plates and permits, the cab service provider has full freedom to put the safety of passengers at risk.

Last year, Uber halted its operations in New Delhi after one of its drivers was arrested for allegedly raping a passenger. The incident is a proof that how dangerous a taxi ride can become if the cab services are excused from following basic public transport rules.

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Flying Cars get Uber Boost From Research Pact with NASA

Uber signs new pact with NASA on 'flying car'

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SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites
SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites. Pixabay

In a bid to show its seriousness about taking its “flying car” concept off the ground, ride hailing company Uber has signed a second space act agreement with NASA.

The pact aims to further explore concepts and technologies related to urban air mobility (UAM) to ensure a safe and efficient system for future air transportation in populated areas.

Under this agreement, Uber will share its plans for implementing an urban aviation rideshare network, NASA said in a statement on Tuesday.

NASA will use the latest in airspace management computer modeling and simulation to assess the impacts of small aircraft – from delivery drones to passenger aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability – in crowded environments.

This is NASA’s first such agreement specifically focused on modeling and simulation for the UAM operations.

Uber
Uber (Wikimedia Commons)

NASA’s definition of “urban air mobility” is a safe and efficient system for vehicles, piloted or not, to move passengers and cargo within a city.

Uber’s first Space Act Agreement with NASA, which was signed in November 2017, was a general statement of an intent to collaborate, The Verge reported.

“NASA is excited to be partnering with Uber and others in the community to identify the key challenges facing the UAM market, and explore necessary research, development and testing requirements to address those challenges,” Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said in a statement.

“Urban air mobility could revolutionise the way people and cargo move in our cities and fundamentally change our lifestyle much like smart phones have,” Shin said.

At its research facility at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, NASA will use the data supplied by Uber to simulate a small passenger-carrying aircraft as it flies through DFW airspace during peak scheduled air traffic.

Also Read: NASA Blasts off Mars Lander, InSight

Analysis of these simulations will identify safety issues as these new aircraft take to the air in an already crowded air traffic control system.

“The new space act agreement broadening Uber’s partnership with NASA is exciting, because it allows us to combine Uber’s massive-scale engineering expertise with NASA’s decades of subject matter experience across multiple domains that are key to enabling urban air mobility, starting with airspace systems,” said Jeff Holden, Uber’s Chief Product Officer.

Uber believes that urban air transportation has the potential to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground and a network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically (called VTOL aircraft for Vertical Take-off and Landing, and pronounced vee-tol), could enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities. (IANS)