Self-Driving Taxis Could Have a Vomit Problem

By David Welch and Gabrielle Coppola : bloomberg – excerpt (includes video and audio)

  • Managing self-driving rideshare fleets could be costly, yucky
  • ‘It is a really big issue and no one has figured it out’

It didn’t take long for Pritam Singh to learn a key lesson about working for Lyft. People are disgusting. They have a nasty habit of throwing up in moving vehicles.

Rideshare drivers are acutely aware that customers tend to do that, along with slightly less annoying things like wiping hamburger-greasy fingers on armrests and turning floor mats into swamps of slush. Singh, who ferries passengers for Lyft Inc. in Manhattan several evenings a week, drops about $200 a month cleaning — really, sometimes it feels like sanitizing — his Toyota Camry… (more)

People can be incredibly disgusting, and don’t respect other people’s property. If you take public transportation you know what to expect in a public car. Cars with no drivers are especially at risk of sustaining damage and being trashed.

But the major point of this article is that the industry is moving much too fast into unknown territory and there are a lot of reasons why the rush to robotize cars may not pan out to be as profitable as some people anticipate. Read the article and see what you think.

Muni Hackers Vow To Release 30GB Of Sensitive Data If Ransom Isn’t Paid

by Kevin Montgomery : hoodline – excerpt

The hackers behind the ransomware attack against Muni’s computer network this past weekend are continuing to escalate their threats against San Francisco’s transportation agency. Beyond controlling 2,112 of SFMTA computers, the hackers now claim to have stolen 30 gigabytes of sensitive departmental data and promise to release it if their demands are not met.

Yesterday, Hoodline learned the hackers, going by the pseudonym “Andy Saolis,” were demanding a 100 Bitcoin ($73,000) ransom to return control of nearly 25 percent Muni’s computer network.

The deadline for sending ransom payment passed early Monday morning—a point at which the hackers had previously claimed they would close their email account, leaving the department without a method to purchase the password to regain access to their network.

Instead, as the deadline passed, Saolis sent a canned statement to several media outlets, including Motherboard, the Examiner and Forbes, with new claims that they extracted information from department computers before encrypting them and locking Muni out.

“I hope Company Try to Fix it Correctly and We Can Advise Them But if they Don’t , We Will Publish 30G Databases and Documents include contracts , employees data , LLD Plans, customers and … to Have More Impact to Company To Force Them to do Right Job!,” Saolis wrote in an email sent to the media.

The hackers, who acknowledged they do not reside in the United States, did not specify what they meant by “LLD Plans.”

According to a list, obtained by Hoodline, of Muni’s machines currently encrypted by the hackers, Saolis likely has control of the department’s payroll service, email servers, Quickbooks, several MySQL database servers, and personal computers for hundreds of employees…(more)

Commuters’ privacy is being clipped

sfgate.com – excerpt

Bay Area officials are encouraging public transit commuters to adopt the Clipper card, which is accepted by every major Bay Area transit system. The cards are convenient and easy to use, so it’s not surprising that people are adopting them enthusiastically – there are more than 1 million active cards in circulation.
But those commuters may be surprised at how much their Clipper cards know about them. If you use a Clipper card, your every move on public transit can be stored for up to seven years – even after an account is closed
This is an ongoing privacy battle with technologies ranging from Google to FasTrak. Unfortunately, the technological devices that rely on privacy invasions seem to be proliferating faster than the legal challenges against them… (more)

Related:
Privacy Advocates Raise Concerns Over Clipper Card Data

Mobile payments that matter: parking meters

GUEST POST : venturebeat.com

I was having coffee with local guru Greg Sterling yesterday afternoon at Another Cafe in San Francisco, and as we were chatting, Greg pulled out his iPhone and refilled his parking meter.
This has got to be one of the most compelling use cases for mobile payments: paying for parking.
In San Francisco, mobile payments for parking are handled by PayByPhone.
Unlike most mobile payments services, it solves three real problems:

  1. Many meters in San Francisco still don’t take credit cards; with PayByPhone, they all do. Finding quarters at the last second can be a challenge.
  2. The app keeps track of the time remaining. When a meter is about to expire, it alerts the user.
  3. It truly takes advantage of mobile. Instead of having to stop our conversation, walk to the meter, put in some coins, and walk back, Greg was able to add time to his meter with a few clicks.

That’s a much better return on effort for users than, say, a mobile payments app like Square, which replaces the marginal inconvenience of swiping a credit card with fumbling through a mobile app. (The barista at the coffee shop pointed out that although Pay With Square was cool, in many cases it took longer than normal transactions because people were unfamiliar with the app. Some even held up the line as they downloaded the app at the register.)
It’s also a use case where the alternative is quite painful: a ticket for $62 or $72 for parking at an expired meter. (more)

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