Uber is One Step Closer to Picking You Up in a Self-driving Car

Uber on mobile phone
Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ride hailing service is testing a self-driving car as part of push to eliminate the cost of drivers

Uber users are a step closer being chauffeured around town in driverless cars.

The ride hailing service has started testing a self-driving car as part of plan to automate rides and eliminate the cost of drivers, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The test car was recently spotted on the road in Pittsburgh, where Uber has opened a research lab. The car, with “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” emblazoned on the side, had what appeared to be equipment for autonomous navigation affixed to its roof.

A spokeswoman for Uber told the newspaper that “This vehicle is part of our early research efforts regarding mapping, safety and autonomy systems” without providing further detail.

Uber executives have voiced interest in self-driving cars in the past. In recent months, they have poached a group of robotics specialists from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to staff the effort.

Brian Johnson, an analyst for Barclays, said in a report earlier this week that the cost savings of self-driving cars for Uber or any other taxi-like service could be big. Removing the driver would reduce the cost of a ride at 34 cents a mile, nearly 58% cheaper than traditional new cars.


TIME Shopify

This Tech Company had a Blockbuster First Day of Trading Following IPO

First Day Of Trading for 2015 On The Floor Of The NYSE As U.S. Stock-Index Futures Rise After S&P 500's December Decline
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

E-commerce software company Shopify had a big day after its shares started trading

E-commerce software maker Shopify had a blockbuster Wall Street debut Thursday following an initial public offering with its shares gaining just over 50% in their first day of trading.

The company’s shares gained 51% to close at $25.86, a sharp increase from their IPO pricing of $17.

Investors piled into Shopify early in the day, sending its shares briefly above $28. By the afternoon, the stock fell from its intraday peak but still managed a big gain at the close.

Shopify, which sells software to online merchants to create websites and to process payments, ended the day valued at $1.92 billion. The company raised $131 million in the IPO.

By going public, Shopify joins a small list of other e-commerce-related companies including Etsy and Alibaba that have made their stock market premieres in the past year. Both of those companies, however, have hit turbulence since. Shares in Etsy, the marketplace for handcrafted goods, are now only slightly above their initial pricing after a big initial jump. Shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba have widely fluctuated since their premiere and are now around the same price as where they ended up on the first day of trading in September.


TIME cybersecurity

Edward Snowden Answered the Question We’ve All Been Wondering

The New Yorker Festival 2014 - Edward Snowden Interviewed by Jane Mayer
Bryan Bedder—Getty Images for The New Yorker General view of atmosphre at Edward Snowden Interviewed by Jane Mayer at the MasterCard stage at SVA Theatre during The New Yorker Festival 2014 on October 11, 2014 in New York City.

He talked about Rand Paul, too

In case you were curious, Edward Snowden still enjoys pizza in Russia.

“Do you miss pizza? Favorite thing about Russia so far? If you could be an insect, which would you be and why?” a Reddit user asked Snowden in a recent AMA, or “Ask Me Anything.” Snowden’s response was short and sweet: “This guy gets it. Russia has Papa John’s. For real.”

But Snowden also took the opportunity to answer questions on more serious subjects. After all, the conversation was centered around Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That’s one section Snowden brought to the public’s attention in 2013 when he leaked information about the NSA’s telephone records collection program.

Snowden took the AMA opportunity to respond to a question about Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster against the Patriot Act. Snowden wrote:

It represents a sea change from a few years ago, when intrusive new surveillance laws were passed without any kind of meaningful opposition or debate. Whatever you think about Rand Paul or his politics, it’s important to remember that when he took the floor to say “No” to any length of reauthorization of the Patriot Act, he was speaking for the majority of Americans — more than 60% of whom want to see this kind of mass surveillance reformed or ended.

Snowden conducted the Reddit conversation along with Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU.

TIME Horse Racing

American Pharoah’s Owner Hit With Gambling Debt Lawsuit

Kentucky Derby Horse Racing
Garry Jones—AP American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert, left, and owner Ahmed Zayat hold the trophy after and after Victor Espinoza rode American Pharoah to victory in the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 2, 2015, in Louisville, Ky.

The businessman who owns the prized colt is facing a legal hurdle

The owner of American Pharoah, the thoroughbred racehorse that’s a contender for the Triple Crown, is facing a new hurdle—a legal one.

Ahmed Zayat, the Egyptian businessman who owns the horse, is facing a breach of contract lawsuit filed in March 2014 in federal court in New Jersey by a man named Howard Rubinsky, who in 2008 pleaded guilty for playing a role in an illegal bookmaking operation.

Rubinsky claims he opened a $3 million line of credit for Zayat at a sports betting website in Costa Rica called Tradewinds, but Zayat never paid up, and Rubinsky, who was being paid based on bets of the bettors he brought to the site, lost out on $1.65 million plus interest.

Zayat has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and has called it a scam and “total fiction.” The dispute between Zayat and Rubinsky stretches back 11 years. Zayat wants the breach of contract lawsuit thrown out, in part, because it was filed after the expiration of the six-year statue of limitations.

Meanwhile, American Pharoah is on track to win horse racing’s biggest prize. If he’s victorious at the Belmont Stakes on June 6 he’ll be the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978.

TIME Apple

The Worst Thing About the iPhone Is About to Be Fixed

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

It's huge for public transportation users

Your iPhone is about to get way more useful for navigating around big cities.

Apple’s upcoming iOS 9 update will add public transportation data to the default Maps app, according to 9to5Mac. The company will reportedly unveil bus, subway and train directions within the app at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

This is the first time Apple’s Maps app will include public transit data since the company stopped using Google’s mapping data in 2012. Apple was reportedly planning on including the new features in iOS 8, but pulled them at the last minute because of personnel and data issues.

Sources also told 9to5Mac that Apple is making progress with an indoor mapping project to help users find their way inside large buildings and landmarks. However, it’s unclear when that will be released.

TIME Autos

Why This New Takata Airbag Recall Is So Confusing

Consumers are left with one vital—and unanswered—question

Takata’s airbag recall isn’t just terrifying—the devices may spray shrapnel when they explode—it’s also leaving consumers with a very important unanswered question: Is my car included?

The recall has so far failed to provide a comprehensive list of which specific cars it applies to.

On Tuesday, the Japanese automotive parts maker doubled the number of airbags in its recall to 34 million, about one in seven cars in America. The faulty devices have been linked to six deaths. Compiling a full list of the cars included in the recall may take days, according to the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ten automakers must check their records against Takata’s before a full rundown of affected automobiles is made public.

In the meantime consumers are wondering if the cars they’re driving contain airbags that can do some real, potentially deadly damage.

A California driver told The New York Times that his car model, a 2003 Honda Accord, appeared on previous Takata-related recall lists, but his vehicle number didn’t show up as being recalled when he searched the government’s safercar.gov site. “This has been tough to follow,” John Young told the newspaper.

A post on the Safety Administration’s website told visitors to “check back periodically as a recall on your vehicle may not show up immediately.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Aviation

These Airlines Get the Most Hate on Social Media

Getty Images

American Airlines and United Airlines rank at the top

Love to hate the airlines? Sure you do. And a new study by Crimson Hexagon suggests you’re not alone. Raging against airplane travel is becoming a serious national pastime.

The research, which analyzed Twitter posts over three months, finds negative sentiment towards the airlines is significantly higher than positive sentiment, at least on social media. Of the five domestic airlines studied by Crimson Hexagon, average negative sentiment is 47%, while positive sentiment averages just over 20%. And we can’t stop talking about airlines. The firm also found a 209% increase in brand mentions since 2012, confirming that more and more consumers are turning to social media to discuss airlines.

“Social media provides customers an avenue to share frustrations and express disappointment,” says John Donnelly, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Crimson Hexagon. “Since air travel inevitably brings headaches, it’s no surprise that negative sentiment toward airlines is commonplace on social channels.”

What are passengers saying? Here are a few of the social media callouts mentioned by the report:

“And to top this day off @AmericanAir lost my bag in a gigantic fail of travel arrangements. #worstairlineever #nothingtowear” tweeted Camille S.

(To its credit, the #worstairlineever responded and started looking for her bag.)

“Got yelled by the representative at the desk and she wasn’t even right, made me loose (sic) my flight 😡 #deltasucks @DeltaAssist stuck at HPN,” lamented Jose Sella.

Delta’s response? “Ask a supervisor.”

“love flying @SouthwestAir! Best airline ever, they make traveling to visit my fiancé much more bearable,” raved Nate Carlson.

Southwest didn’t reply to the tweet.

The report, based on data from Jan. 1 through March 23, finds JetBlue has the highest “positive” rating. But that isn’t saying much; only 33% of the total posts were considered positive and 45% of its posts were negative.

American Airlines and United Airlines were tops in the “negative” rating, each with 56% of their total posts. American had only 10% of its posts in the “positive” category and United barely made it past 20%. American and United are also the most talked-about airlines, according to the study.

American Airlines held the largest presence on Twitter, with 594,000 posts during the study. The next-closest airlines are United Airlines, with 406,000 posts, and Delta Air Lines, with over 239,000 posts, according to the report.

For passengers, these numbers tell us what we already know: When it comes to air travel, there’s plenty to complain about.

But for Crimson Hexagon, these findings suggest there’s a missed opportunity for air carriers. “What airlines need to understand is that every tweet from a disgruntled customer is an opportunity to also connect with that customer and strengthen the relationship,” says Donnelly. “Simply replying to a tweet with a canned corporate apology isn’t enough anymore.”

If airlines want to improve — and who doesn’t want that? — they need to adopt a more human tone and consumer-focused approach, both in their companies and through social media.

“Then airlines can genuinely connect with customers and ultimately increase brand loyalty and affinity,” says Donnelly.

If that happens, maybe passengers will have to look for a new hobby.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Best and Worst U.S. States for Working Moms

Getty Images

New York state tops the list, while Indiana remains at the bottom

How does your state stack up when it comes to supporting working moms and dads?

A new report out Wednesday from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research rates the 50 states on a Work & Family Composite Index, which factors in access to paid leave, support for dependent and elder care, cost and quality of child care, and the gender gap in labor force participation for parents of young kids.

The best grade in the report went to New York State, with California coming in at No. 2 and Washington, D.C. at No. 3.

On the flip side, Indiana got the IWPR’s worst grade, followed by Utah and Montana.

You can find the full, sortable list of all the states, including grades, scores and rankings here.

Before residents in the high-scoring states get too excited, it’s worth nothing that even New York, the highest-ranked state, only scored a “B” from the IWPR. The group points out that 40 states scored a zero on the Paid Leave Index, meaning workers have no statutory rights to paid family leave, paid medical leave, or paid sick days.

Support of working moms has become increasingly important as their ranks have grown. Now, nearly half of children in the U.S. have a breadwinning mother who either brings in the money entirely on her own or, if she’s married, contributes at least 40% of family earnings, according to the IWPR.

Paid leave and child care are particularly hot-button issues. Not surprising when you consider this stat from the Department of Labor: 62% of mothers who gave birth within the last 12 months are in the workforce.

The work and family report is part of the IWPR’s larger series, Status of Women in the States: 2015.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Earnings

How Apple Just Saved Best Buy

A Best Buy store in Las Vagas.
Britta Pedersen—picture-alliance/dpa/AP A Best Buy store in Las Vagas.

The retailer has been struggling for a while

Best Buy pulled another rabbit out of its hat, this time in large part courtesy of Apple’s iPhone 6.

The retailer, which many analysts have written off as a relic destined to disappear, keeps coming back with strong results, somehow maintaining its appeal with shoppers who could easily buy its electronics on line.

Best Buy on Thursday reported U.S. comparable sales unexpectedly rose 0.6% in the quarter ended May 3, easily beating Wall Street forecasts for a 0.4% decline, according to Consensus Metrix, and helping it post a stronger than expected profit.

It’s not the first time that electronics retailer benefit from a runaway hit, of course, but Best Buy has in the last few years positioned itself to benefit better than most from such blockbuster products.

“We continued to take advantage of strong product cycles in large screen televisions and iconic mobile phones,” said CEO Hubert Joly said. Those iconic mobile phones would of course largely be the iPhone 6, launched last winter, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy 6.

Best Buy also got some help from large TVs and its growing big appliance business (that it appears to be taking in part from Sears).

The retailer has been fighting back using the very thing people thought condemned it to obsolescence: its stores. The chain’s growth plan is anchored on focusing on top brands in electronics and giving them a lot more prominence in stores. In 2014, it opened showrooms within its stores to showcase case products by Sony and Samsung. It has also previously had shop-in-shops for products by Microsoft and Beats headphones. And it has done a stellar job of integrating its e-commerce and stores for services like in-store pickup for online orders. These are some of reasons hit products like the iPhone have helped Best Buy but not RadioShack or hhgregg.

This “is what has allowed us to consistently outperform the market,” Joly said.

The strong quarter follows a big rise in U.S. sales over the holiday season, belying the long held notion that Best Buy can’t keep up with the aggressive pricing of Amazon.com, Walmart and Target.

There was more good news from Best Buy: total company sales for the current quarter are set to decline less than Wall Street analysts expected (Best Buy is in the process of exiting China, and closing dozens of Canadian stores) because of what Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam called “a strengthening domestic consumer-electronics market.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Fast Food

Shake Shack Could Be Adding This Surprising New Menu Item

Shake Shack Raises Prices For Upcoming IPO
Scott Olson—Getty Images In this photo illustration a cheeseburger and french fries are served up at a Shake Shack restaurant on January 28, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

A serious rivalry could be heating up

Shake Shack isn’t afraid to mess with a good thing.

The burger chain that reported stellar first-quarter earnings last week has hinted that it’s considering going in a new direction: chicken. A subsidiary of Shake Shack called SSE IP filed an application on April 20 to trademark the name “chicken shack.” The filing indicates that the restaurant could introduce a new chicken item or open a chicken-focused restaurant.

Either way, the addition of chicken would be a divergence from Shake Shack’s beef-heavy menu. The only chicken item it offers now is its chicken dog, which is made with chicken, sausage, and sage.

Shack Shake did not immediately return a request for comment. It told CNBC, which first reported the news, that it has no “new items to announce at this time,” and that it’s always experimenting with new items in its test kitchen.

In chasing after chicken consumers, Shack Shake is targeting a hot menu segment. Sales of chicken entrees at fast food restaurants grew 3% to $5.4 billion in the year ending in March—quicker than burgers, whose sales grew 1% to $7.9 billion, according to data that research firm NPD Group gave to CNBC.

That said, Shack Shack’s chicken will be pitted against some serious competition. Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A managed to surpass KFC last year as the nation’s leading chicken fast food restaurant by sales with less than half the number of restaurants and by operating one fewer day a week. (Chick-Fil-A restaurants, a chain founded by the deeply religious Samuel Cathy, are closed on Sundays.)

Interestingly enough, Chick-Fil-A announced in March that it was moving onto Shake Shack’s home turf: It will open a restaurant in New York City this summer.

A serious rivalry could be heating up.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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