Uber ups the ante on rider safety; introduces features to detect trip irregularities, record audio on-trip

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2020 Published on January 09, 2020

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Now, Uber users will receive a four-digit code when they book a ride that is to be shared with the driver partner to start the ride

In a bid to ensure better safety for its riders Uber is introducing a range of new safety features for riders and drivers, including a feature that detects trip irregularities, and audio recording, which will be rolled out as a pilot in India later this year.

The new features, which were announced on Thursday, underscore Uber’s continued global commitment to make safety one of its biggest priorities.

The safety features

A new feature called RideCheck will enable Uber to flag certain trip irregularities, like long, unexpected stops or midway drops that might, in some rare cases, indicate an increased safety risk, especially for women. If an anomaly is detected, Uber will initiate a RideCheck by reaching out to both the rider and the driver. This marks the first step by Uber to proactively reach out to users during a trip and offer tools they may need to get help.

Uber will also be piloting audio recording as a safety feature in the Indian market in 2020. Once introduced, a rider or driver partner will have the choice to record audio through their phone while on-trip. When the trip ends, the user has the option to report a safety incident and submit the audio recording. The audio file shall be encrypted and the user cannot listen in to the stored recording on their device, but may choose to send it to Uber’s customer support agents who will use the audio to help better understand an incident and take appropriate actions. Only Uber will have access to the audio once the user submits it.

The company also launched the safety PIN, which is a trip verification feature to help ensure riders are getting into the car they are matched with through the app. Riders will receive a 4-digit PIN that they can provide verbally to their driver who can start the trip in the app only when the correct PIN is entered. In addition to the PIN, Uber announced it’s working on advanced technologies that will in the future use ultrasound waves to automatically transmit the safety PIN for verifying rides.

Speaking at the event, Sachin Kansal, Senior Director of Global Safety Products, Uber, said, “Our global safety product team has a simple but critical mission: to help set benchmarks for ridesharing safety. Over the past 3 years, we have introduced several features to enhance safety standards on our platform. Today, we raise the bar again. "

Uber had earlier launched centre of excellence in India providing riders 24×7 access to speak directly to a representative of Uber’s safety team should there be an urgent, non-emergency issue, during a trip.

Last year Uber had released a report that it received 5,981 reports of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018 in the US.

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Published on January 09, 2020
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