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International Focus: Germany

Uber Looks to Make a Fresh Start in Germany

Putting past legal troubles in the rear-view mirror, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said that the company is focusing on “responsible growth” in Germany going forward. Uber, who has previously encountered legal battles with taxi associations and regulators in the country, is looking at Germany as a “total reset,” Khosrowshahi said. Uber currently offers its service through licensed taxi drivers in Germany.

German Researchers Develop “Electronic Skin”

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf research laboratory have developed “electronic skin” that serves as a new interface with electronic devices. The e-skin not only tracks health data such as muscle movement and heart rate, but also transforms magnetic sensors into control devices. In a range of examples, the e-skin functioned as a keypad for input or a dial to control the intensity of a light source. The researchers believe the e-skin could have applications in robotics, medicine, navigation and other uses.

Germany to Consider Cryptocurrency Regulation

Germany and France plan to make a joint proposal on regulating bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at a meeting of G20 countries in Buenos Aires in March. The call for regulation came shortly after bitcoin’s value fell below $10,000 for the first time since November, and Chinese and South Korean authorities cracked down on the cryptocurrency. “We have a responsibility to our citizens to explain the risks and reduce the risks by regulations which are needed,” said Peter Altmaier, chief of staff of the German Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs. The plans follow calls for regulation from a German central bank official, stressing the need for international cooperation. “Effective regulation of virtual currencies would therefore only be achievable through the greatest possible international cooperation, because the regulatory power of nation states is obviously limited,” said Deutsche Bundesbank director Joachim Wuermeling.

BMW Move Signals Possible Carsharing Partnership

After the company bought out partner company Sixt from the carsharing joint venture DriveNow, some believe BMW may be poised to form a carsharing alliance with Daimler AG. By merging DriveNow with Daimler’s Car2Go, the two companies would be better positioned to compete with companies like Uber and Lyft. BMW paid Sixt 209 million euros for its stake in the joint venture.

Air Taxi Makes First Passenger Flight in Germany

German aviation startup Volocopter has taken its first passenger flight in Germany. The electric “multicopter” featuring 18 rotors, is described by Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter as an “autonomous air taxi.” The multicopter made the flight in an exhibition hall in December. Volocopter secured a provisional license for flight from the German aviation authority in 2016. Recently, the Volocopter VC200 prototype made its maiden U.S. flight onstage during the Intel keynote at CES 2018, after Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced a partnership with Volocopter.

Mark Chisholm, Consumer Technology Association