As companies like Uber and Google seek to push the limits of urban transportation technology, one startup has hit it big by taking the simple route. Electric scooter company Bird exploded onto the ride-sharing scene after debuting its two-wheeled transporters in select US cities. Through its app, riders can pick up and drop off their scooters at their most convenient location, and with the benefit of a motor, getting around is especially easy. They’ve proven so popular that San Francisco actually had to introduce ordinance temporarily banning them from sidewalks until a solution could be found. Venture Capitalists however, threw $200 million in fresh funding at Bird this week, resulting in a jaw-dropping $2 billion valuation for the company. But maybe this shouldn’t come as such a surprise for such an innovative idea.
Many of the world’s car making giants have been cautious about the ride-sharing boom. But with firms like Uber continuing to expand across the globe and autonomous vehicles seemingly around the corner, it may be time to get in on the game. That’s the thinking behind Toyota’s decision this week to invest a whopping $1 billion in Grab, the largest ride-sharing company in Southeast Asia. The move is the biggest single investment ever made by a carmaker in a ride-sharing service. “This expansion is aimed at achieving connectivity for Grab’s rental car fleet across Southeast Asia, and rolling out various connected services throughout the region,” Toyota said in a statement. Grab said it plans to use the new funds to expand its food delivery service and innovative mobile payment platform.
The latest in cutting-edge technology was on display in Hanover, Germany this week at the annual CEBIT trade show. Dubbed the world’s leading tech fair, everything from augmented reality medical devices to an innovative airport management system by Chinese mobile phone giant Huawei were on display. At the heart of this year’s show is the intersection of artificial intelligence and robotics. One exhibition featured an electric city bus that can learn to drive itself. Perhaps most exciting was a demonstration by Audi of a car that can park on its own, after dropping its driver off in a loading zone. If you want to know where society is headed in the next decade and beyond, CEBIT is the best place to get a snapshot of the future.
Chinese electronics company Vivo turned heads this week when it showed off the latest phone in its NEX flagship series at an event in Shanghai. The flashy device is notably notch-free, which means it features a staggering 91.24 percent screen-to-body ratio - the highest ever seen on a mobile phone. Most high-end phones these days sit around the mid-80 percent mark. Vivo got around the typical troubles the infamous “notch” presents by including an 8 megapixel pop-up camera for selfies. But the innovation doesn’t stop there. Instead of a standard speaker, it turns the display itself into a speaker with glass-vibrating technology. “The launch of NEX finally brings an end to the industry’s pursuit of a true bezel-less device,” said Vivo Senior VP Alex Feng.
Chinese car firm Byton made a splash at the annual CES conference earlier this year when it unveiled its high-tech electric SUV concept. The vehicle, priced at around $45,000, features a 250 mile range and a battery that can charge 80 percent in just 30 minutes. Now the company’s aim of launching an electric car by 2019 looks a lot more realistic with the news of acquiring $ 500 million in fresh funding this week. The company announced the investment as it opened its new global headquarters in Nanjing. Byton said the latest injection of cash would be used to further its “progress in mass production, R&D and product development.”