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Uber Booted From UK

Eight years ago, Uber started its bold idea of transporting people to different locations using its service levels like UberX and UberPOOL. The California ride-hailing firm reached great heights in just a short amount of time because of its good service. But despite the victory, Uber is the subject of protests and legal actions.

This downfall from Uber made competitors such as Via Transportation go further in the industry. Via is an American real-time ride sharing and transportation network company.

Just recently, a new dilemma struck the popular ride-sharing company headquartered in San Francisco, CA. Despite its success and having operations in 633 cities all over the world, the global transportation company has become the subject of legal actions, protests, and bans in various locations.

Uber Kicked Out of London, Refused in Request of License Renewal

The Transport of London, a local government body accountable for the transport system in England, recently prevented the renewal of private hire license of Uber’s application.

The decision not to recommence Uber’s private hire license follows a case back in 2016 when two Uber drivers complained to a United Kingdom (UK) employment tribunal. According to the drivers, they should be treated as employees and not as contractors because Uber controls their actions. The startup company did not waste any time and launched an appeal, arguing that the drivers are self-employed rather than workers of the company.

Uber is keeping its main argument that their drivers have the free will to choose when to work and how much they can earn. In a statement, the company mentioned, “If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.”

Uber’s Negative Reputation in the UK

It is not the first time that Uber experienced its share of downfalls. The company has faced different issues like discriminating against drivers based on their gender and the resignation of a General Manager from their UK headquarters.

Countries the banned Uber.

Another negative Uber incident occurred when a female British driver brought a case against the company in an employment tribunal, saying that the Californian ride-hailing firm is putting her and other women at risk because of their application feature.

She discussed that drivers do not know the passenger’s destination, which is somewhat dangerous for reasons that the drop-off area might either be unsafe or remote. The female driver added that drivers don’t have a choice if they want to cancel the journey. She also mentioned that they may receive low ratings and complaints when they ask aggressive passengers to leave the car.

Reports on assault incidents have also hindered Uber from reaching its prime. It was even disclosed that 32 claims of sexual assault were made against Uber drivers in London over the past twelve months.

A mandatory English essay test has also become an issue for Uber – there is a requirement in London where private hire drivers should pass the English test. This prompted the startup company to appeal against the plan, saying that many of their drivers will lose their jobs if the tests proceed.

Lastly, the resignation of Jo Bertram, the General Manager of Uber UK, created a huge question mark to the company’s reputation. Despite having a great run, Bertram’s leadership was also peppered with controversies. The operation of Uber UK is now shaky knowing that the company has no proper boss. In the meantime, Tom Elvidge, the General Manager of Uber London, is acting as the Uber UK’s General Manager.

Controversies of Uber in Other Countries

The UK is not the only country that experienced a problem with Uber. In Europe alone, countries like Italy, Denmark, and Hungary also shared the same sentiment. Italy temporarily issued a nationwide ban on Uber until the company won their appeal. A new taxi law in Denmark forced the company to pull out from the country as well, similar to what happened when new regulations forced Uber to suspend its service in Budapest, Hungary.

In the United States, Alaska is one of two states Uber was pulled out, with Texas as the other. For Alaska, it was the same reason as London’s, on whether drivers were considered as registered taxi drivers or independent contractors. The company ended up paying the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development a total number of $77,925 because of the complaint.

For Texas, specifically in Austin, Uber pulled out of the city (along with another ride-hailing app called Lyft) due to mandatory fingerprint-based background checks on their drivers, as well as banning passenger pickups in traffic lanes.

The startup company got into another controversy when they did not participate in a taxi strike in New York City, which was intended to oppose Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

This downfall from Uber made competitors such as Via Transportation go further in the industry. Via is an American real-time ride sharing and transportation network company. The company was established in 2012 and started its journey in New York City, and was later brought to Chicago and Washington DC.

Via has the capability to take over Uber because it charges users a flat rate for a ride, depending on the state. It is also much safer in Via because users can call the live support team in case of emergency.

Taiwan and China are just two countries in Asia that also had issues with Uber. Taiwan gave the company a two-month suspension. In China, the California ride-hailing firm was being defeated by its Chinese competitor, Didi Chuxing.

Fuel Cells For Cars Are Ready On The Road By 2020?

Fuel cells for cars have been at the center of alternative energy solutions research since the 1970s. The bold idea behind this type of energy source is that hydrogen in a stable form is used to combine with oxygen from the air, producing electricity. The reaction would produce water, which would be expelled as water vapor. The range of speculation for fuel cells range from any compound which serves as a plentiful supply of hydrogen, including methane and water.

Following the production of these cars, hydrogen filling stations are also increasing, with an expected total of more than 60 refilling stations in California, and 12 stations in the Northeast.

These fuel cells have three disadvantages which center around hydrogen. The first is that hydrogen has to be stored in fuel stations much like the ubiquitous gas stations. The second is the high cost of hydrogen production. Lastly, hydrogen has a bad rep because of its history. In the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, the German passenger airship called the Hindenburg had a catastrophic explosion because it was filled with hydrogen.

The infrastructure for refueling does not yet exist. There are no chains of hydrogen refueling stations where you can drive to and fill up on your needs. While this is yet to be created, the time when you can refuel is approaching. The increase in the production of fuel cell cars has prompted the industry to provide hydrogen refueling stations.

The technology for fuel cells has been around since the 1800s. The ideas have not changed, but the technology has improved to the point when today’s fuel cell engines are much safer than ever before.

Safety of Fuel Cells

Fuel cells produce water and electricity due to the use of electrodes and controlled chemical reactions. This is much like how a battery a fuel cell has an anode and a cathode. Oxidation occurs at the anode, while at the same time reductions happen at a cathode. Due to these reactions, electrons flow through the electrodes via an external circuit, with an electric motor connected to it. The reactions within the electrodes create electricity to flow and run the electric motor.

To keep the electricity flowing, there should be a fresh flow of reactants through the electrodes. In a battery, the system is closed and the reactants are all inside it. The fuel cell uses reactants fed from an external source, and this replenishes the electrons moving inside the fuel cell.

Fuel cell research through the years has resulted in different combinations of materials for the electrodes, as well as the fuel used. It is the intended application that dictates what materials are required for the electrolyte, the electrodes, and other components.

The development of the proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, as well as developments that allowed for the use of less platinum as a catalyst, have lowered the cost of fuel cells. The iterative method of continuous improvement upon the design has resulted in a smaller, more powerful but less expensive model that provides car manufacturers the flexibility in making smaller cars at competitive prices.

Currently, there are three car manufacturers that offer fuel cell cars for sale or for lease. These are Toyota, which produces about 3,000 Mirai four-seat cars; Hyundai, which expects to produce 1,000 Tucson Fuel Cell compact SUVs; and Honda, which produces around 1,000 Clarity five-passenger sedans.

Following the production of these cars, hydrogen filling stations are also increasing, with an expected total of more than 60 refilling stations in California, and 12 stations in the Northeast. Japan expects to have 40,000 fuel cell cars on the road by 2020, with 160 hydrogen fueling stations across the country.

Food Tech Company Develops Diabetic-friendly foods

One good thing about the advent of technology and tech-related innovations is its focus on improving health and finding cures for various illnesses. In Singapore, a small startup company called Alchemy is exploring the possibility of developing diabetic-friendly foods to people with diabetes.  This is a bold idea which they have been pursuing through hundreds of hours of painstaking research and trial and error.

Alchemy says they are attacking the problem at the source: food is causing diabetes and blood glucose spikes, so it’s best to address the issue of food in the first place.

According to reports, 60% of people with diabetes all over the world live in Asia, with the highest numbers residing in India and China. Asians are heavily dependent on white rice, noodles, and bread for their daily food, and these often come with high glycemic indexes, which can lead to a spike in their blood sugar. The company believes that diabetes is one of the most prevalent health problems in the region, and can be better managed if there was Diabetic-friendly food only had a lower glycemic index, to begin with.

Alchemy was founded by Varleen Goh, who graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Food Science and Technology. Her partner, Alan Phua, takes care of corporate building and fundraising, being a Finance and Entrepreneurship graduate from the Singapore Management University.

It’s Phua’s family who is genetically predisposed to develop diabetes. Singapore is the second developed country with alarming rates of diabetes. The technology was designed to help people like Alan prevent the onset of diabetes. The company is aware that people’s eating habits, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, is what has been triggering the early onset of chronic diseases.

Fighting Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes, which occurs about 90% of the time, is caused by insulin resistance. It’s bright about by a diet that’s high in saturated fat, high sugar, and low fiber. For now, people with diabetes are given oral medicine or insulin and placed in a controlled diet in the hopes of managing their blood sugar levels.

Alchemy’s tech combines food technology, biotech, and medical technology verticals to change the components of the food itself to make it low glycemic. This is an ideal scenario not just for diabetic patients, but also for individuals who want to make sure that they don’t develop diabetes as well. For example, their first product is called the Diabetec® glycemic lowering composition. This component can be added to white rice, which is known to have a high Glycemic Index.

The product fundamentally changes the glycemic index of carbohydrates such as Jasmine or Japanese rice without affecting their appearance, taste, or texture.

Asia is the number one consumer of rice and noodles in the world, and this means a massive market for Alchemy and their future innovations. To date, they have several companies from Singapore, China, Thailand, and Malaysia.

The founders say their technology is unique compared to other companies working on technology for people with diabetes because they aren’t targeting monitoring – more of prevention and maintenance. Alchemy says they are attacking the problem at the source: food is causing diabetes and blood glucose spikes, so it’s best to address the issue of food in the first place.

This is a promising discovery that will have a bold impact on the health industry as well as the lives of billions of people.

Food Technology: Meets the Digital Food Ordering System for Diners

People love food, especially when it’s hot, fast, cheap and convenient for ordering and delivery by only using digital food ordering system. These days, restaurants are making the bold move of putting technology at the forefront of their services and offerings with the sole aim of meeting the needs of young and hip consumers.

The new generation of diners and customers want more than just be wowed by great food, and they want the best customer experience to accompany it. Nowadays, that means involving a digital food ordering system and delivery processes.

New Players Setting Benchmarks

After their recent foray in the grocery world with their acquisition of Whole Foods, an online retail giant Amazon.com wants to break into the restaurant delivery scene. The $13.7 billion investment has proven to be successful, so the next venture is a tie-up with New York-based digital food ordering system company Olo.

Olo’s very own Danny Meyer also opened a pizza place called Martina in New York City. Like most modern coffee shops, the diner orders and pays at the cashier and receives a buzzer which alerts them once their orders are finished.

Olo offers a software-as-a-service (SaaS) digital food ordering system that is ideal for restaurants with 40 or more branches. One of the company’s main investors is Shake Shack Inc. founder Danny Meyer. The firm specializes in digital food ordering system and pays services to over 200 restaurants, including Applebee’s, Shake Shack, and Chipotle.

This collaboration is hugely beneficial to Amazon’s data mining project, where it collects shopper’s data and preferences from actual brick-and-mortar establishments.

It can be recalled that Whole Foods purchase was meant to analyze consumer data from actual shoppers. Their next venture will allow them to collect additional data on shopper preferences from the restaurant market. Reports say that the US food market, worth a massive $1.5 trillion, is divided between groceries and restaurants. Now that they have Whole Foods, Amazon’s entry into the restaurant industry is only logical for them to have a complete picture of how American consumers think and behave.

 

While Olo takes care of technology implementation in publishing menus, taking orders, and collecting payments, Amazon is responsible for deliveries. Business Insider reports that Olo’s integration with Amazon will help its customers list menus and manage orders in multiple places. To prepare for the partnership, Olo launched a new product called Rails, which will make it easier for restaurants to accept delivery orders from Amazon as well as other third-party clients.

The digital food ordering system makes ordering at ease and efficient to food delivery, but there’s another aspect of the dining experience that should be met.

Moving to Instagram

To keep things interesting, restaurants also have to deal with the need to have a social media presence. It’s quite common for diners to snap pictures of their food and then upload it to various social media sites before they eat. Instead of just focusing on deliveries, some restaurants are setting up small and casual “pop up stores” to complete the experience for this niche.

Chef David Chang, a bold innovator in the food scene, recently opened a “fast-casual” store near Union Square in New York City called Ando. This restaurant used to be just a virtual restaurant solely concentrated on food delivery. However, because diners need to be somewhere and post photos of themselves and their food on Instagram, the restaurant became an actual store – complete with breakfast and an ever-expanding menu. The delivery service is still very much alive, albeit with a small fee.

Olo’s very own Danny Meyer also opened a pizza place called Martina in New York City. Like most modern coffee shops, the diner orders and pays at the cashier and receives a buzzer which alerts them once their orders are finished. For to-go orders, the place has a specially designed vent that lets out steam while keeping the pies hot.

With so much disposable income spent on food, restaurant, and food establishment owners have to follow trends and preferences to continue being successful. Fortunately, technology is there to help them adapt.