Uber aims to improve safety; makes drivers take selfies for ‘Real-Time ID check’
Cab aggregator platform Uber on Tuesday announced the launch of its ‘Real-Time ID Check’ for its drivers before commencing on rides.
The company said that drivers would be required to take selfies with the Uber app and will use Microsoft’s Cognitive Services to compare drivers’ photos with the ones in the company’s database.
“Real-Time ID Check prompts drivers to share a selfie before going online to help ensure the driver using the app matches the account we have on file. This prevents fraud and protects drivers’ accounts from being compromised. It also protects riders by building another layer of accountability into the app to ensure the right person is behind the wheel,” said Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer, Uber.
Uber said that this feature will be made available in five cities in India, starting with New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata and more cities will follow.
Drivers’ new protocol
1. Drivers will be asked periodically to take a selfie in the Uber app before they accept rides.
2. Uber will use Microsoft’s Cognitive Services to compare photos to the one corresponding with the account on file.
3. If the two photos don’t match, the account will be temporarily blocked while Uber looks into the situation.
The company said that it had rolled out this feature in the US last year.
“The average verification time is just a few seconds and the technology was successful in verifying more than 99% of drivers in the pilot program,” the company said.
In its blog post the company named five initiatives for making India safer to ride with Uber.
1. Trips are no longer anonymous: Uber said that when a driver accepts a request, his or her first name, photo, license plate number, and rating will be shown to the person being picked up. In addition, the driver can see the first name and rating of the passenger. Drivers and riders can contact each other through the app if there is any confusion around pick-up details.
2. Driver partners are verified: Uber said that it has a zero tolerance policy toward any abusive behaviour on its platform. In addition, the company said they were equally conscious about recruiting driver partners with valid documents, after a comprehensive background check and a mandatory soft skill training that enables them to offer riders a great experience.
3. Never get lost: When riders enter their destination into their app, drivers will automatically receive turn-by-turn directions (navigation) on their app throughout the trip — making the ride more comfortable for both parties. Riders can also see their route live on a map in the app so they always know where they are and if they are on the right route.
4. Share my journey: “Riders can easily share their ride details, including the specific route and estimated time of arrival, with friends or family for extra peace of mind. They’ll receive a link where they can see in real time the name and photo of the driver, the vehicle, and the trip route live on the map until the final destination is reached — and they can do all of this without having to download the Uber app themselves,” the company said.
5. SOS Function: The SOS function, now known as the ‘EMERGENCY’ button introduced by Uber would enable riders to directly connect with the police control room and an internal response team at Uber as well, the company said.