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Uber’s CEO Knows We Need Equality To Move The World Forward

Shortly after taking the helm as CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi read the now-infamous report on the beleaguered company’s culture, it was bad. Real bad. He had to take breaks, he admitted in an on-stage interview with legendary journalist Tina Brown yesterday at the Women in the World conference in New York City.

Uber has had to do a bit of soul-searching in the past year or so. There was the viral blog post from female engineer Susan Fowler that revealed the company’s toxic culture of serial harassment, eventually leading to the ousting Khosrowshahi’s predecessor Travis Kalanick. There was a massive data breach that came to light more than a year after it happened, and the lawsuit against self-driving car company Waymo. And most recently, an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona. All this has been, understandably, bad for business — users have been deleting the app in droves, and the company’s stock tanked.

Khosrowshahi knew the company was in crisis, of course (though some of the above happened after he became CEO). But in some ways, that makes things easier to shake up. “The crisis was so big that I didn’t have to convince anyone to change things,” he said. He was drawn to the company because it presented a unique opportunity to make a difference in the world; if Uber was going to do that, Khosrowshahi knew the company’s values had to shift.

Late last year, after extensive crowdsourcing, voting, and focus group testing, Khosrowshahi released the company’s new norms, such as “We celebrate differences” and “We do the right thing.” Yes, these new values sound cheesy, but it’s a dramatic shift from the “hustlin’” and “toe-stepping” of the past that allowed such rampant and destructive behavior at the company.

“It’s clear that the culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get us to the next level,” Khosrowshahi wrote in a post about the new norms on LinkedIn.

At the Women in the World event, Khosrowshahi elaborated a bit on what exactly that means. “There are so many women who are COOs of these companies, but they never get to be CEO,” Brown said, pointing out that male CEOs always talk about their “great pipeline of women.” “But that pipeline seems pretty congested. My question is: How is your pipeline, Dara?”

Khosrowshahi noted that this takes time and investment. Too many companies focus on recruitment when they talk about women in leadership. Uber has done that, he said, but he’s really most interested in development “Recruitment is like a sugar high,” he said — if you really want women to be in charge, it takes years. He points to his time at Expedia, in which he put forth a conscious effort to raise the number of women in charge from about 15 percent to 25 percent. “It took years to do so because it took developing women, shaping them, working with our culture, making sure you move them to the right places in the company,” Khosrowshahi said. He seems to imply that they could do the same at Uber.

But true equality goes beyond gender  it means making a more equal society for everyone. And that fits into Uber’s larger vision of taking you wherever you need to go, no matter how you do it, even if it’s not in a car. Cars sit idle 95 percent of the time, Khosrowshahi said, and parking takes up 25 to 30 percent of space in cities. He envisions a future without car ownership. “If mobility and movement is available to everybody, the delta between the value of real estate in Manhattan vs Queens starts diminishing,” Khosrowshahi said. “Bringing the cost of movement down creates a society that is more equal, and creates opportunity for more people on broader basis.”

And why should you trust Uber to get us to that future? Khosrowshahi’s ready. “Because I’m in charge.”

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Science & Technology

Here’s How Cars Are Secretly Making You Sleepier

Most of us have probably felt sleepy on a car journey, but it’s not always due to an early start, or a long day, or a lack of caffeine.

New research shows that something in the actual act of car travel can make even the most alert of us start to feel drowsy.

It’s all to do with the vibrations a car makes as it moves: they can bring on sleepiness in just 15 minutes, the new study shows.

That’s something for both car manufacturers and road safety experts to think about, according to the researchers from RMIT University in Australia. They want to conduct further studies into how car seat vibrations could be secretly bringing on sleep.

“When you’re tired, it doesn’t take much to start nodding off and we’ve found that the gentle vibrations made by car seats as you drive can lull your brain and body,” says one of the team, Stephen Robinson.

sleep drive 2The virtual simulator. (RMIT)

“Our study shows steady vibrations at low frequencies – the kind we experience when driving cars and trucks – progressively induce sleepiness even among people who are well rested and healthy.”

Robinson and his colleagues hooked 15 volunteers up to a virtual simulator that they could vibrate at different frequencies. The volunteers were tested twice, once with no vibration, and once with low-frequency 4-7KHz vibrations.

They then measured the heart rate variability (HRV) of the participants over the course of each 60-minute session. HRV is an indicator of drowsiness because it shows the body tweaking its central nervous system as it gets tired.

The monitors showed drowsiness kicking in for the drivers after just 15 minutes. On average, the drowsiness was “significant” by 30 minutes, and the volunteers continued to feel sleepier and sleepier until the tests finished.

What might be happening, the researchers say, is that the brain becomes synchronised to the vibrations and enters an early stage of sleep – hence why you might get a whole car full of people nodding off on a long trip.

The study does have some limitations we should talk about: only 15 people were tested, and at only one narrow range of frequencies.

They were also sent down a rather monotonous, two-lane virtual highway, without the distractions of a real drive.

But with tiredness a factor in around 1 in 5 fatal accidents on the road, it’s important that we find out exactly what’s going on. The researchers want to continue their work by looking at bigger groups of people and more ranges of frequencies.

Even if the effect can’t be negated completely, changes in car seat design could minimise it. In fact, the study team thinks the opposite effect could be engineered – at least until self-driving cars arrive and we can all fall asleep in peace.

“Our research also suggests that vibrations at some frequencies may have the opposite effect and help keep people awake,” says Robinson.

“So we also want to examine a wider range of frequencies, to inform car designs that could potentially harness those ‘good vibrations’.”

The research has been published in Ergonomics.

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New BlackFly flying car prototype that anyone can pilot

A Silicon Valley startup has developed a flying car prototype that it claims ‘anyone can pilot.’

Called BlackFly, the single-seat, all-electric aircraft doesn’t require the flyer to have a pilot license in order to operate it in the US, according to Palo Alto-based Opener.

Opener first drew up concepts for BlackFly nine years ago and has now built an early prototype that can travel 25 miles at speeds of up to 62mph.

A Silicon Valley startup has developed a flying car prototype that it claims ‘anyone can pilot.’ Called BlackFly, the single-seat, all-electric aircraft doesn’t require a pilot’s license to fly

BlackFly is an ultralight vehicle that consumes less energy than a traditional electric car and is also built to be steathily quiet.

The battery can be recharged in as little as 25 minutes.

Users don’t need a pilot’s license to operate it, but they must take part in minimal training, including sitting in a simulator for about five minutes.

It’s powered by eight, small electric motors and controlled using a responsive joystick.

Opener CEO Marcus Leng hopes that the BlackFly flying car will be ready to go on sale as soon as next year.

Unlike other flying car models, Leng plans to keep BlackFly affordable, with a price tag near the cost of a traditional SUV.

Earlier models may be more expensive, however.

‘Opener is re-energizing the art of flight with a safe and affordable flying vehicle that can free its operators from the everyday restrictions of ground transportation,’ Leng said in a statement.

The hope is to democratize ‘three-dimensional transportation’ such as flying cars, while maintaining safety.

Opener has conducted rigorous testing on BlackFly, including 1,000-plus flights and 10,000-plus miles flown.

‘We first flew 10,000 miles. We did a thousand-plus flights,’ Leng told CBS. ‘Autonomous. And we had a payload of 2,000 pounds.’

Users don’t need a pilot’s license to operate it, but they must take part in minimal training given by Opener, including sitting in a simulator for about five minutes

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Video Shows Car-Like Acceleration of Tesla’s Electric Truck

I happen to find trucks, big rigs or whatever you prefer to call them, very fascinating. I’ve always been awe struck by them since I was younger, and still have the same fascination to this day. Similar to trains, I think part of that fascination is the power. Thanks to Elon Musk, trucks are now taking advantage of the tremendous leaps that have been made in electric power technology.

This is quite incredible!

via Science Alert:

In Elon Musk’s future, you’ll never have to change lanes to avoid being stuck behind a truck at the lights again.

Here’s some more footage of someone having an excellent time testing Tesla’s electric truck in a residential area recently:

You might notice the hammer goes down as soon as the driver hits the 25mph (40km/h) zone.

And it’s not just because it’s unladen that the truck is pulling stunts you’ll only otherwise see at a drag strip.

Tesla claims the truck can hit 100 km/h in 20 seconds, even when fully loaded.

We can’t wait to see more.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

Additional Video via johannes h. – YouTube

The new Tesla Semi Truck:
+ 0-60 mph (96km/h) in 5 sec
+ 500miles (800km) of range
+ $180.000

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