Uber monitors drivers to ensure safety
The popular ride-sharing service, Uber, has become a hot topic in the city with last week’s allegations that both the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the city’s taxis could be working together, first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News. Uber Pennsylvania’s general manager reacted to this the next day at a press conference, calling the PPA 'a broken’ system.
And now, the Guardian is reporting that in Houston, Uber has been monitoring its drivers’ road habits without their knowing. According to the Guardian, Uber said that it will inform its drivers only when it needs to access the data after a company complaint. Selected drivers in Houston have been monitored for this trial since it started in late 2015.
Using the accelerometer in drivers’ phones, the company can track when a driver stops and starts abruptly, which could indicate that a driver is tailgating or not providing a smooth ride for passengers. Uber further said that is planning several experiments designed to gain more influence over the behavior of drivers and passengers in its vehicles.
“Over time, we hope to use technology to improve safety proactively. For example, if gyrometer data shows that drivers are constantly moving their phones around, we can offer them mounts to fix the problem,” Uber's chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote on the company blog. “Or we could use technology to determine that the average South Florida Uber driver goes 50MPH and takes 50 minutes to drive from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. For drivers who go much faster on that stretch, we can ask them to curb their enthusiasm.”
Uber added that they are considering dashboard phone mounts for drivers accused of texting while driving, and installed passenger facing mirrors in the backseats of operators in Seattle based on evidence that it causes riders to “self-moderate” their behavior.
The data is being used in connection with the ratings system, passengers give drivers one to five stars, using the app to flush out the unsafe drivers and help crack down on any behavior that makes the riders experience unbearable.
In light of the recent event, one can only wonder how long it will take for this technology to make its way to Philadelphia and other ride-sharing cities.