Uber and Lyft are pushing the online grocery business underground

CommonSense said with more people using apps like Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, -1.01% and Lyft Inc. LYFT, +0.66% these tight, and unused, …

The growing use of ride-sharing apps is pushing the online grocery business underground, according to CommonSense Robotics, a company that is using propriety technology, including artificial intelligence, to fulfill its mission of delivering online grocery orders within one hour.

CommonSense said construction on its second “micro-fulfillment” center is underway. The facility will be located on the -1 level of a parking lot of Tel Aviv’s Shalom Meir Tower, below ground level. The fulfillment center will be 18,000-square-feet with an average height clearance of just 11 feet and three temperature zones to accommodate fresh, chilled and frozen items.

CommonSense said with more people using apps like Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, -0.80% and Lyft Inc. LYFT, +2.76% these tight, and unused, urban spaces are prime real estate for the grocery delivery business.

“With the rise of ride-sharing apps and micro-mobility in cities, car ownership is on the decline and parking lots are increasingly sitting vacant,” the CommonSense announcement said.

Read:As Beyond Meat soars, Conagra sees $30 billion opportunity in Gardein plant-based meat alternatives

CommonSense’s says its first facility is the “world’s smallest automated fulfillment center” at just 6,000 square feet. It has been working with its Super-Pharm retail partner since October 2018.

“Taking e-commerce fulfillment underground inside cities is one way we can enable retailers to fulfill online orders in close proximity to their customers — while doing so profitably,” said Elram Goren, chief executive of CommonSense in a statement.

These facilities operate using few human workers, a touchy subject for many who fear seeing robots replace humans in the labor market.

“Some jobs are going to move. It’s not a very romantic way of thinking, but it’s the reality,” Goren told MarketWatch at the Shoptalk conference in March.

Andy Puzder, the former chief executive of Carl’s Jr. parent CKE Restaurants Inc., raised eyebrows with statements about job automation, the rising cost of labor and keeping wages low. He was a potential pick for labor secretary for then-President-elect Trump in 2016.

“The question is not what robots will do but what people will do,” Goren said.

See:Cost of eating out is rising a lot faster than buying groceries (and cooking at home)

Increasingly, people are going to order their groceries online, according to industry executives and Moody’s analysts.

An October 2018 Moody’s report said the U.S. online food retail business was 2% of the roughly $1 trillion in sales.

“The logistical challenge associated with delivering perishable and fresh food items on a large scale is a major constraint,” the report said. “Despite the many compelling reasons for online sales to grow, we think most of the growth in online grocery sales will be limited to certain densely populated metropolitan areas, where income levels and density of delivery routes are more conducive to online grocer purchases.”

Of course, this hasn’t stopped major grocery companies from trying to figure out how to advance this business. Kroger Co. KR, +1.36%announced on Thursday that it and Ocado Group Plc are going to invest $55 million on an automated warehouse facility in Georgia. The fulfillment center will create 400 jobs.

And Walmart Inc. WMT, +0.61% has tested all sorts of delivery services, including in-home delivery, which is launching in the fall in three markets: Kansas City, Mo., Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Fla., according to a June announcement.

Don’t miss: Walmart to offer grocery delivery right to customer’s fridge – even if they’re not home

“What remains unclear for us is: 1) how much could this cost to roll-out at scale, 2) how much demand will there ultimately be, and 3) how much are consumers willing to pay for the service,” said Charlie O’Shea, Moody’s vice president, in a statement last month about this Walmart service. “We remain concerned that companies may end up overspending in their development of various delivery options by overestimating the potential demand, though that is a ‘down-the-road’ issue.”

Pradeep Elankumaran, chief executive of Farmstead, an online grocer that also uses AI technology and operates in the San Francisco Bay area, thinks online grocery sales are about to soar, including fresh food. One of the sources of consumer reluctance about online grocery is the inability to personally choose produce like bananas and tomatoes.

Watch:How AI can take the guesswork out of farming

“By 2025, well over 60% of U.S. will be buying online, including fresh,” said Elankumaran. “At Farmstead, 70% of the basket is fresh.”

For the mid-market customer that makes up much of the U.S. grocery-buying population, online grocery is too expensive, Elankumaran said. That’s where technology comes in. Automating some functions reduce costs.

Elankumaran says big warehouses that are far away from customers are also a hurdle for the online grocery category.

“The small-format warehouse is best,” he said.

EH woman used relative’s credit card for Uber: police

An East Hartford woman is accused of spending almost $2,300 on Uber on her grandmother’s credit card without permission, according to police.

According to East Hartford police, in January, Harris’ grandmother reported that between Dec. 14, and Jan. 24, someone spent about $1,500 on Uber using her credit card. She suspected her granddaughter, Harris, was responsible and believed she took a picture of her credit card to use for the ride-hailing service.

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Video: Stolen dump truck crashes into Uber in Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, Ohio– A local Uber driver was hit head on by a dump truck. The crash happened on Warren Road in Lakewood Wednesday night.
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LAKEWOOD, Ohio– A local Uber driver was hit head on by a dump truck.

The crash happened on Warren Road in Lakewood Wednesday night. Police said the driver of a stolen dump truck crashed into the vehicle, then fled the scene. The truck was later found in Rocky River.

The driver of the Uber suffered minor injuries.

If you have any information, please contact the Lakewood Police Department.

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Woman charged with smuggling immigrants after claiming to be Uber driver

An Arizona woman was arrested last week and charged with smuggling migrants into the U.S. after initially claiming they were her Uber passengers.

An Arizona woman was arrested last week and charged with smuggling migrants into the U.S. after initially claiming they were her Uber passengers.

The Las Cruces Sun News reported Wednesday that 33-year-old Evelyn Limas was arrested on Saturday after being caught driving 10 immigrants without legal status in her van and initially telling Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers that her passengers were in fact Uber customers.

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Agents became suspicious, according to court documents obtained by the Sun News, after Limas mistakenly told them she was driving them to a city located in the opposite direction from the one in which she was traveling.

She now faces one count of felony smuggling of immigrants. Information on her plans for a plea in court were not immediately available, and she reportedly declined to comment to agents after her arrest without a lawyer present.

The ten immigrants in the vehicle, who were all detained, told agents that they were from Mexico and said in some cases that they had agreed to pay thousands of dollars to be successfully smuggled into the country.

News of Limas’s arrest comes as the Trump administration has initiated another crackdown on immigrants with deportation orders who are still living in the U.S. Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are expected to begin raids in 10 major cities on Saturday, targeting at least 2,000 people previously scheduled for removal from the country.

The raids, originally announced in June, were delayed by the president last month in order to give congressional lawmakers time to reach a deal on new asylum restrictions, which are opposed by a majority of Democrats in the House.

Trump announced that the raids were back on in early July, telling reporters that “after July 4, a lot of people are going to be brought back out.”

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Uber Drivers Latest Headache: Becoming Unwitting Getaway Drivers for Robberies

An Uber driver in New Mexico was stunned when police came to his house and told him he had unwittingly been the getaway driver for a robber.

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Inside, though, Harris was robbing the gas station. When he returned, Harris was behaving strangely and holding a pair of scissors.

“He’s acting a little fishy when he gets back in the car, telling me, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!'” Owens told KOAT. “He says, ‘I’m just using this pair of scissors to cut strings off my jacket.'”

As it turned out, Harris had used the scissors to hold up the station.

Owens dropped his passenger off and headed home. Police arrived an hour later, telling him and his wife to come out with their hands up. In a video of the encounter, police officers can be heard telling Owens, “The reason you’re being detained is because the person you took to the Valero robbed the Valero.”

Owens was soon released and Harris was arrested the next day. He pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to drug rehab. According to the criminal complaint, Harris told police he gets into trouble because he was “a privileged child.”

Owens had his doubts: “At some point, accountability needs to come into play,” he said.

Ride-share drivers are increasingly being roped into becoming unwitting accomplices to robberies and other crimes: In 2017, a man in Wilsonville, Oregon, used an Uber as his getaway car while robbing a bank. The man saw Uber and Lyft stickers on the driver’s car and flagged it down. He explained he didn’t have either app but offered to pay cash for the ride, which the driver accepted, according to The Oregonian.

A year earlier, Luis Mallet was arrested after robbing a bank in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and fleeing the scene in an Uber.

In 2015, three suspected robbers got into an Uber in New York and started firing shots out of the car’s windows as it drove away. The driver contacted Uber headquarters, who tracked his car using GPS and helped police apprehend the suspects.

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