Uber, who ever thought that those four little letters would end up providing transportation in 55 countries and more than 200 cities worldwide? Originally, "UberCab," it is the brainchild of Travis Kalanick. It all came about because he could not get a cab in Paris, France. The company is based in San Francisco, CA and was founded by Travis and Garrett Camp in 2009 with apps released in 2010. It raised $49 million in venture funds by 2011 and went international in 2012.
Governments and taxi companies do not always welcome Uber and believe that unlicensed, crowd-sourced drivers are unsafe and even claim that it is illegal. These sentiments are also echoed in Toronto, where some politicians want the Uber app removed from all 12,000 smartphones issued to Toronto municipal employees. They are worried that employees that use Uber could sue the city if they were in an accident on the way to a city run meeting, claiming that the drivers are not properly insured to offer 'taxi' services. None of this has slowed down Uber from gaining popularity and its App is one of the most popular and continues to grow.
Uber is now conducting an experiment in Toronto – they set up a breathalyzer kiosk and invited drinkers to see just how intoxicated they are…"Uber Safe" is the name on the kiosk. A potential 'drunk' will blow into the machine – via a disposable straw – for six seconds as the machine counts down for you. It then will analyze your breath and if you are over the legal limit, it will offer you a free ride home, rather than you driving yourself. The idea and design of the breathalyzer kiosk was cooked up by creative agency Rethink and it was built by Stacklab. Uber noted, "We found a way to keep the streets even safer. You drink. We drive."
Uber has tackled the issue of drinking as well as safety on many occasions. They partnered with SafetiPin in India and with Breathometer, a smartphone breathalyzer, and offered free rides to new users of Uber. People who use Uber were also offered a 10-percent discount on the original Breathometer products through March 7 of this year. Even with Toronto's opposition, Uber has no plans to leave Canada.
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