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Uber will use your smartphone’s sensors to check if your car has stopped suddenly

September 17, 2019
An Uber driver behind the windscreen of his car
An Uber driver behind the windscreen of his car
An Uber driver behind the windscreen of his carAssociated Press

Uber will check in with riders and drivers if it detects unusual activity during rides in the US.

How it works: The system, called “RideCheck,” uses the GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and other sensors on the driver’s smartphone to monitor for irregular activity, like an unexpected long stop, or a car crash. If it detects something out of the ordinary, a notification pops up on both the driver’s and rider’s app to see if everything is okay. Options range from confirming there’s no problem to calling 911 or Uber’s safety hotline.

The AI element: Uber says it uses machine learning to screen out false positives, like a lost phone, the Verge reports. Uber has been working on the system for a year and will roll it out to other countries in the following months.

The context: Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are under pressure to improve safety amid a spate of lawsuits from women who say they have been sexually assaulted by drivers. Lyft is currently being sued by 14 women in California, with the lawsuit alleging about 100 more reports of sexual assaults by Lyft drivers between May 2015 and May 2016. It announced a similar feature to RideCheck last week. Meanwhile several states, including Massachusetts, California, and Texas, are currently investigating Uber over passenger safety.

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