Thursday, 27 April 2017

USA: Uber Driver Charged With Raping Passenger

An Uber driver in Orange County has been charged with raping a passenger who was riding home from a work-related event, authorities said.

The alleged rape occurred March 30, when Angel Sanchez, 36, picked up a woman at a company gathering in Newport Beach, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

The Uber ride was requested by colleagues of the woman, who was under the influence of alcohol at the time, prosecutors said.

Sanchez drove the woman near her home in Santa Ana and sexually assaulted her in his 2016 Toyota Sienna, prosecutors alleged.

The woman fled Sanchez’s vehicle and called 911.

Police arrested Sanchez, a resident of Costa Mesa, on April 1. He was formally charged Tuesday with a felony count of raping an intoxicated victim.

If convicted, Sanchez faces up to eight years in state prison. He is scheduled to be arraigned May 1 in Santa Ana.

Uber spokeswoman Tracey Breeden said the company assisted law enforcement with the investigation.

“Nobody should have to go through what this woman reported to police,” Breeden added.

An attorney for Sanchez could not be reached for comment.

In addition, Uber has unveiled plans to partner with plane manufacturers to develop and test a network of flying cars by 2020.

The ride-sharing company said it will run trials in the US city of Dallas and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The flying electric taxis are being developed with aviation companies including Embraer and Bell Helicopter.

While the technology is largely unproven, Uber believes the service will eventually cost about the same as its car rides.

Expanding on ideas first published in a white paper last October, the company said the electric vehicles will take off and land vertically like a helicopter, with zero emissions and minimal noise.

Media captionAre flying cars the future? The first glimpse of the vehicle backed by Google's co-founder.

In a statement, Uber added the goal was to "enable customers in the future to push a button and get a high-speed flight in and around cities."

Being able to fly over congested urban areas could cut down a commuter's journey dramatically.
Is it really the future?

While it may sound more like science fiction than reality, the company is targeting the 2020 World Expo in Dubai to launch the first Uber Elevate Network demonstration.

And Uber hopes to have its flying taxi service transporting customers as soon as 2023.

It is already investing heavily in self-driving cars, and is facing an intellectual property lawsuit over that technology.

Not content with its land-based ride service, the company believes its vision for flying taxis will make air transportation a part of our daily lives in the future.

But it will first need to convince passengers and aviation authorities that the technology is safe, and there are still huge questions over how to regulate both the testing and introduction of the technology.