Lyft outlines bike and scooter plans

On the heels of Lyft’s acquisition of bike-share company Motivate, the company is gearing up to fully integrate bicycle and scooter sharing into the app. There’s no word on exactly when this will happen, but it’s likely this will happen soon.

Lyft is also investing $1 million to advance transportation equity to people in underserved communities. As part of its commitment, Lyft will work with non-profit organizations like TransForm to develop programs that support people with low incomes.

“Soon you will be able to get real-time transit information, plan a multi-modal trip, and use Lyft Bikes and Scooters to connect to a local transit stop or shared ride pickup location,” Lyft wrote in a blog post.

In June, Lyft revamped its rider app to encourage shared rides. Currently, 35 percent of Lyft rides are shared, but the goal is to reach 50 percent shared rides by 2020, Lyft VP of Government Relations Joseph Okpaku told TechCrunch last month. With scooters and bikes offered via the app, Lyft envisions being better equipped to “bridge the first and last-mile gap.”

By the end of 2019, Lyft says it aims to take one million cars off the road. Last year, Lyft says 250,000 of its community members gave up their personal cars.

This comes shortly after Uber invested in part of Lime’s $335 million round. Uber’s plan is to put its logo on Lime’s scooters, Bloomberg previously reported. Meanwhile, Uber owns and operates bike-share service JUMP following a ~$200 million acquisition earlier this year. And, then in April, Uber unveiled its multi-modal transportation ambitions, which includes car rentals and public transit integration.

Last month, both Lyft and Uber applied to operate electric scooter programs in San Francisco. The city’s municipal transportation agency, however, has yet to make a decision on which five companies, if any, will receive permits.

Silicon Valley scooter wars

Prime Down Amazon’s sale day turns into fail day

Update: Here’s how to get around Amazon’s error. Use TechCrunch confirmed this workaround works.

It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, readers are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page.

Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem to work fine. I just bought this tent two weeks ago for $120. Some users are reporting errors when completing a purchase, too.

This is a huge blow to Amazon and its faux holiday Prime Day. The retailer has been pushing this event for weeks and there are some great deals to be had. It’s not a good look for the world’s largest retailer even though the retailer saw glitches last year, too.

Other retailers jumped on Amazon’s bandwagon and are running big sales around Prime Day. As of this post’s publication, both Walmart and Target are not suffering site outages and probably love Amazon’s outage.

Also, this.

Diane Greene is the only person celebrating Amazon Prime Day so far.

— megan quinn (@msquinn) July 16, 2018


3:30pm EDT: It’s 30 minutes past the launch of Prime Day and the landing page and deal navigation page is still down.

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Nuraphones get active noise cancelling via software update

I like the Nuraphones a lot. In fact, I named the sound-adapting headphones one of my favorite things of 2017. Clearly I’m not alone in that enthusiasm, eithe — the Melbourne-based startup scored $4.7 million to expand its market early last year.

Nura announced this week that it’s making its headphones even better, courtesy of a software update. The company is pushing out a bunch of tweaks to the headphones through a upgrade initiative it’s deemed “G2.” Chief among them is active noise cancelation — something that was conspicuously absent from the products upon release.

Until now, the company has relied on the passive version — using the unique combination of over-ear cups and in-ear buds to muffle out ambient noise. The update, however, will bring the ability to filter out low-frequency sounds like airplane engine rumble, without adding a high-frequency hiss into the mix.

Also new is the addition of Social Mode, which does the opposite, using the four on-board microphones to let sound in, so users can hear their coworkers or carry on a conversation with the headphones on. They’ll also be used to improve the sound of voice calls, filtering out noisy environments during conversations.

Now’s as good a time as any to pick up a new pair, by the way. The company is offering Nuraphones for $260 for Amazon’s Prime Day — that’s a 25-percent discount off their normal price.

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CRISPR DNA editing may cause serious genetic damage researchers warn

CRISPR-Cas9, the gene-editing tool that is currently the darling of biotech and many other fields, may not be quite as miraculous as early tests suggested. A new study finds that what scientists thought of as a scalpel may be more like a felling axe, causing damage hundreds of times what was previously observed.

Before anyone panics and checks out the window for mutated monstrosities, it should be said right away that this isn’t a nightmare scenario by any means: the tool can still be used in many ways safely, and the clinical repercussions of the damage are unexplored. But this unexpected limitation of a tool so widely applied will almost certainly put a chill on its use.

CRISPR, as a quick reminder, is basically a molecule that cleanly and reliably snips bases out of DNA strands paired with a molecule that hunts out a single sequence of bases. Together, they act like a pair of laser-guided scissors.


The idea is that by cutting out a handful of bases in a sequence that produces, for instance, sickle cell anemia, you can disable that gene altogether. This has been shown in numerous studies, and although unexpected insertions and deletions (abbreviated “indels”) of a handful of base pairs has been observed, no greater damage has been expected or seen — until now.

It turns out that some CRISPR edits may produce indels at the scale of thousands of bases — more than enough to affect adjacent genes or otherwise interfere with normal genetic operation.

The study published today in Nature, by Michael Kosicki, Kärt Tomberg and Allan Bradley of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, explains that previous research may have never encountered this type of damage simply because, essentially, it never allowed damage at this scale to occur.

The problem isn’t that CRISPR is going wild and producing this damage on its own; instead, the issue is an unexpectedly sloppy repair job by the cell itself.

After a CRISPR snip, lead author Bradley explained in a Nature news writeup, “the cell will try to stitch things back together. But it doesn’t really know what bits of DNA lie adjacent to each other.”

While doing its best to repair the damage with a bit of its own genetic cutting and pasting, it may accidentally substitute hundreds or thousands of base pairs that weren’t there, or cut out similarly sized ranges that were supposed

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Hear BMW’s Dieter May explain the connected car at Disrupt SF 2018

Mobility is undergoing a radical transformation and the topic will be thoroughly examined at Disrupt SF this September. We’re excited to have BMW’s Dieter May speak on the main stage about how the German car company is addressing the connected car while still building, what they say is, the ultimate driving machine.

And bonus! May plans to unveil something brand new right on the Main Stage. We can’t share many details on the unveiling, but we can say that it’s certainly worth your attention.

May has been at BMW since 2014 when he joined the car company after eight years at Nokia. He currently leads the digital products and services as a Senior Vice President. It’s an interesting position that puts him in the middle of merging consumer technology with the driving experience — and doing it in a safe manner. That’s the tricky part and a topic we’re excited to speak to him about.

BMW is in a tough position like most auto makers. Consumers expect the latest and flashiest technology. Massive LCD screens are expected now to display rich navigation with always-updated information. Auto makers need to deploy this technology in a manner that is safe and practical. BMW just revealed its latest in-car operating system that upends traditional BMW style in favor of what’s best for the driver.

We’re excited to talk to talk to May about how automakers and startups alike should address consumer’s expectations.

Dieter May joins several other notable figures in the mobility space speaking at Disrupt SF including Cruise’s Kyle Vogt and Aurora’s Chris Urmson.

Passes to Disrupt SF 2018 are available at the Early Bird rate until July 25 here.



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