Uber announced a slew of new safety features Wednesday intended to give both riders and drivers peace of mind when using the app.
The biggest change is a system called “Ride Check.”
Uber says it’s an extension of the GPS system that tracks riders and drivers within the app — only now, it will be leveraged to detect possible crashes and anomalies such as unusually long waits. The system will send an alert to both the rider and driver asking whether there’s an issue, and give them the option to contact authorities or reach Uber’s safety line.
Uber says the feature is tuned to “flag trip irregularities beyond crashes that might, in some rare cases, indicate an increased safety risk.”
Even though over six billion people—nearly one billion of whom will have disabilities— are expected to live in urban centers by 2050, many of the world’s major urban cities have a long way to go before their infrastructure becomes inclusive for people with disabilities.
In early August, the New York City council voted to forbid Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies from adding any more cars to their fleets for the next 12 months. New York is the first American city to enact such a cap, though other cities are considering similar actions. The action took place amid the specter of six suicides by taxi drivers over the last six months and general concerns about traffic congestion in the city. Lawmakers sought to check the unregulated growth of the services and study just how many vehicles were actually required to provide appropriate transportation options during the pause.
There was, however, one important caveat to the bill that has gone largely unreported thus far: Uber and Lyft are still welcome to add as many wheelchair-accessible vehicles as they like. According to advocates for accessible transit in the future, this exception sets up a future not only for better transportation, but also for innovation around affordable wheelchair-accessible vehicle design.
One of the biggest challenges facing car companies developing driverless vehicles has little do with sophisticated robotics or laser technology.
Instead, they must figure out how to engineer something far more amorphous but no less important: human trust, the kind that is communicated when human drivers and pedestrians make eye contact at a crosswalk.
Surveys indicate that large portions of the public harbor deep reservations about the safety of self-driving technology, so Jaguar Land Rover enlisted the help of cognitive psychologists to unpack “how vehicle behaviour affects human confidence in new technology,” the British automaker said in a news release.
For most people, Uber is all about requesting a ride and jumping in a car. But Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi is planning to change all that as the company switches its focus to embrace more modes of transportation — especially electric bicycles and scooters — in a bid to build what he calls an “urban mobility platform.”