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Uber and Lyft return to Austin after Texas law kills the city’s fingerprint rule

Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft, which left Texas’ tech-savvy capital city a year ago over local fingerprint requirements for drivers, have returned after state lawmakers intervened.

Both companies began rolling on Austin’s streets again Monday, when Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that puts the state — not local governments — in charge of regulating the ride-hailing industry.

Local leaders in Austin, the conservative state’s most liberal city, argued unsuccessfully that its tech-driven economy was uniquely positioned to launch capable alternatives that could fill the gap.

“Austin is an incubator for technology and entrepreneurship, and we are excited to be back in the mix,” Uber spokesman Travis Considine said Thursday. “ We know that we have a lot of work to do in the city, but we couldn’t be more excited for the road ahead.”

Uber and Lyft — which are both based in San Francisco — fled Austin after losing a bruising and expensive fight to replace an Austin ordinance that required fingerprint-based background checks of drivers, a variety of data reporting and other requirements.

Advocates for fingerprinting say it’s the best way to weed out drivers with criminal records. Uber and Lyft have argued their background checks suffice and that fingerprint databases can be out of date. Fingerprinting can also slow down the process of adding new drivers.  Read More

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Everything you need to know about the Google lawsuit that could derail Uber’s future

The first self-driving car prototypes are already navigating the roads in a few cities. But the real action is about to take place in the courtroom.

Google and Uber, the two giants at the forefront of developing the technology, are vying to own the emerging market and to suck up the profits.

The stakes are high and the fight is already getting personal, with Google accusing one of its star engineers of stealing some of its crown jewels.

google waymo

Last month, Waymo, the self-driving company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, sued Uber, claiming that one of its employees stole vital technology shortly before starting his own self-driving company (which Uber later acquired).

Autonomous cars have the potential to upend massive industries ranging from transportation to auto manufacturing. For Google and Uber, the opportunity and the threat posed by a world of self-driving vehicles is huge.

Google has been developing self-driving technology for the better part of a decade, and plans to license that technology to other car companies through Waymo. There’s also a chance Waymo will eventually develop its own ride-hailing service powered by self-driving cars to compete directly with Uber.  Read More

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