A tech company launched an app Monday that offers public and private options to help people get around, including subway, buses, bike-share, ride-hailing companies and even temporary carpooling arrangements using a person’s social network.
The SoMo app — short for social mobility — is the work of HERE Mobility, a division of HERE Technologies specializing in GPS-related applications. Liad Itzhak, a senior vice president with the company, said the app launched in 15 cities around the world, including Los Angeles, with plans to add about five cities a month.
Itzhak said the app intends to make it easier for users to get from one place to another by presenting the widest array of options.
“What we have created with the app is the complete opposite approach in the current market,” Itzhak said.
A coming milestone in the automobile world is the widespread rollout of Level 4 autonomy, where the car drives itself without supervision. Waymo, the company spun out of Google’s self-driving car research, said it would start a commercial Level 4 taxi service by late 2018, although that hadn’t happened as of press time. And GM Cruise, in San Francisco, is committed to do the same in 2019, using a Chevrolet Bolt that has neither a steering wheel nor pedals.
These cars wouldn’t work in all conditions and regions—that’s why they’re on rung 4 and not rung 5 of the autonomy ladder. But within some limited operational domain, they’ll have the look and feel of a fully robotized car. The question is how constrained that domain will be.
Autonomous vehicles hit the road this year in the name of retail, with pilots of delivery services for groceries and takeout coming to U.S. cities. To bring these innovations to fruition, technology companies and retailers decided to join forces.
Rush hour in Singapore, a crowded island city of nearly 6 million people, is much like rush hour in almost every major city in the world: a living hell of clogged highways and stressed-out drivers. The dilemma, if left alone, will only get worse if, as is expected, Singapore adds a million more residents in the next decade. But city planners have no intention of leaving it alone. They have in mind a solution that is radical and all-encompassing: to replace car ownership with ride-sharing.