January 26, 2016 10:23am
Anyone who has used Uber before has likely encountered a driver who was a little too hard on the gas pedal, or overly tenacious with the brakes.
According to a recent press release from the often controversial ride-sharing platform, Uber plans to track driver activity in order to “improve safety proactively.”
The company says it started tracking drivers in China via GPS coordinates approximately six months ago in order to detect whether drivers were attending protests in the city of Hangzhou. While this was an isolated incident, the company has continued testing the technology over the last few months.
Uber says it’s now able to tell exactly when a driver is speeding or braking too hard thanks to GPS and accelerometers built directly into nearly every smartphone.
“Gyrometers in phones can measure small movements, while GPS and accelerometers show how often a vehicle starts and stops, as well as its overall speed,” said Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer. “If a rider complains that a driver accelerated too fast and broke too hard, we can review that trip using data. If the feedback is accurate, then we can get in touch with the driver. And if it’s not, we could use the information to make sure a driver’s rating isn’t affected.”
Uber says it also has the ability to detect when drivers are moving their phone around too much, and mentions that the company can provide mounts to fix this problem. Sullivan says that if Uber detects drivers are speeding frequently the company will “ask them to curb their enthusiasm.”
While this technology brings few downsides to passengers, it’s likely drivers will take issue with Uber further monitoring their activities, especially given the recent class action lawsuit that challenges the fact Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors.
Recently, Uber announced it is giving drivers in Seattle colour-coded lights to place on their vehicles, allowing riders to more easily identify their vehicle in the evening.