Raising concerns over the safety of riders amid increasing driver-related incidents in India, cab-hailing company Uber on Thursday introduced three new safety features – pin verification before ride, travel and in-ride audio during travel irregularities. ‘Ridecheck’ recording (to be rolled out as a pilot later this year).
The ‘ridecheck’ security feature will enable Uber to mark some travel irregularities, such as long, unexpected stops or midway drops that may indicate an increased safety risk, especially for women.
If a discrepancy is detected, Uber will initiate a ridecatch by reaching both the rider and the driver.
As part of the PIN authentication feature – which rival Ola introduced back in 2017 – riders will receive a 4-digit PIN at the start of their journey, which, once shared with drivers, will begin the journey.
Uber also said that it will pilot audio recording as a leading feature in the Indian market later this year. The in-ride audio recording feature is currently available in Brazil and Mexico.
“In the last three years, we have introduced many features to raise security standards on our platform. Today, we raise the bar again as we work towards introducing audio recording in India as a pilot this year And roll-out the ridecheck feature for a long time. Stop and midway drop-off, “said Sachin Kansal, Uber, Senior Director, Global Safety Products.
Once the audio recording facility is introduced, a rider or driver partner will have the option to record audio via their phone during the on-trip.
When the trip ends, the user has the option to report a security incident and submit an audio recording.
The audio file will be encrypted and the user cannot listen to the recording stored on their device, but may choose to send it to Uber’s customer support agents, who will use the audio to better understand an incident and take appropriate action .
The company said that only Uber would have access to audio.
Uber has a partnership with the non-profit Manas Foundation, which has conducted thousands of customized ‘gender sensitization workshops’ for Uber driver partners.
So far, the initiative has made more than 50,000 driving partners aware in eight cities of the country.
National Women’s Commission (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma said, “I am very happy to see that Uber and Manas Foundation are working together to implement our suggested gender sensitization training to driver partners.”
In addition to the pin, Uber announced that it was working on advanced technologies that would use ultrasound waves to automatically transmit safety pins to verify future rides.