25-year-old Uber driver runs for Congress

Hackers caused an enormous traffic jam in Moscow when they ordered hundreds of rideshare vehicles to the same location. And closer to home, a 25-year-old Uber driver is running for Congress. All this and more in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar.

‘I’ve been Maced, I’ve been to jail …’ Can 25-year-old Maxwell Frost now be the first Gen Z member of Congress? (The Guardian)

Summary: It’s been a decade since Maxwell Alejandro Frost launched his first big campaign. He was 15 years old, coming off a stint volunteering on Barack Obama’s reelection bid and desperate to attend the president’s second inauguration. In an online search for tickets, Frost stumbled across a page soliciting applications to perform in the inaugural parade. So he submitted what he thought was the perfect act to represent central Florida, the region he calls home: his nine-piece high-school salsa band, Seguro Que Sí (translation: “of course”). “I got some videos together, wrote about our band and how we would love to represent Florida and specifically the growing Latino population,” says Frost.

Weeks later, he received a call while in class from the inaugural committee inviting his band to play if they could get a US senator to vouch for them and fund the trip to Washington DC themselves. When Frost totted up the costs of transport, lodging, food and the band’s float, he arrived at a figure of $13,000. His headteacher told him the school did not have the funds or the pull to make the trip happen and suggested backing out. But Frost was undaunted.

He spent his Thanksgiving break doorstepping local businesses for donations and raised $5,000. He blitzed the office of Bill Nelson, Florida’s ranking US senator, with beseeching phone calls and, after two weeks, had his recommendation letter. Eventually, Frost’s school had a change of heart and added a matching pledge. Impressed, the inaugural committee picked up the cost of the float….

My Take: It’s bound to happen sooner or later. There are literally millions of Uber drivers in the U.S. And I’m sure there’s more than one that have loftier goals than to remain Uber drivers. I think it would be good for Uber drivers everywhere to have more representation in government. To have people who know what it’s like to do the daily grind, who are willing to listen to fellow drivers’ concerns.

I think this is an exciting opportunity. I look forward to hearing more stories similar to this very soon. Share your thoughts about it on RSG’s Facebook page.

Hackers caused a massive traffic jam in Moscow using a ride-hailing app (The Verge)

Summary: Hackers caused a major traffic jam in Moscow after exploiting the Russian ride-hailing app, Yandex Taxi, to summon dozens of taxis to the same location at the same time (via Vice). The attack occurred on September 1st and had traffic heading towards Kutuzovsky Prospect — an already busy boulevard — stuck at a standstill.

A video showing lines of taxis seemingly trying to get to the same destination was shared widely on Twitter and Reddit on Thursday. While Moscow is known for its heavy traffic — it ranked number two as the world’s most congested city in the world last year — this incident wasn’t related to the capital city’s typical traffic patterns.

“On the morning of September 1, Yandex.Taxi encountered an attempt by attackers to disrupt the service — several dozen drivers received bulk orders to the Fili region,” Yandex spokesperson Polina Pestova said in a statement to The Verge. The ride-hailing service, which is owned by the Russian internet giant, Yandex, added that the jam lasted less than an hour, and that its “algorithm for detecting and preventing such attacks has already been improved to prevent similar incidents in the future.”…

My Take: Ok, I know this is horrible and dangerous, but I also think it’s a bit funny. It’s like a prank a 14-year-old would come up with. It’s definitely a different world out there these days. Technology rules our lives in so many facets. What would we do if it all went wrong? If we couldn’t trust our technology to do what it’s meant to do? If we never knew who was behind it?

Waymo opens up driverless robotaxi service in downtown Phoenix to vetted passengers (TechCrunch)

Summary: Waymo, the autonomous vehicle developer under Alphabet, is opening up its driverless robotaxi service in downtown Phoenix to vetted local residents.

People who have been accepted to Waymo’s “trusted tester” program are eligible to hail a driverless ride — meaning no human safety operator is behind the wheel — in a Jaguar I-Pace EV in downtown Phoenix. Waymo has branded these as “rider only” trips to denote that a human safety operator is not in the vehicle. Trusted testers sign non-disclosure agreements and cannot share their experiences on social media or with journalists.

In May, Waymo co-CEO Dmitri Dolgov said on stage at TC Sessions: Mobility that the company had started allowing employees to hail a driverless ride — sans human operator — in the downtown Phoenix area. Opening it up to trusted testers is the next step before a wider public release….

My Take: It seems like the race is always on to beat out the competition. We’re going to start seeing more and more companies approving driverless vehicles in public to further their end goals.

As we’ve said on this platform before, it’ll likely be a long time before this technology will really be a threat to drivers, but it seems almost every ridesharing platform is gunning for the top billing in autonomous vehicles. Who will come out on top?

Also in the news…

Uber Begins Rolling Out Yellow Taxi Rides in New York City (Bloomberg)

Thoughts: Uber is pairing up more and more with taxis in various cities around the U.S. It only makes sense they would do the same in New York City where taxis have ruled the roads for decades before rideshare came along and upset the status quo. Will they pair well together? We shall see.

Uber and Lyft ditch their mask requirement in New York (Yahoo)

Thoughts: This isn’t surprising in the least. I had thought Uber and Lyft had lifted the mask requirements in all areas already anyway. Perhaps because NYC is more regulated than the rest of the U.S. that’s where the difference lies?

Should we be worried about similar cyber attacks as what recently happened in Russia? How are you prepared for this kind of event as a driver?

-Paula @ RSG