This post originally appeared on MIT Technology Review
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 driver’s smartphone’s GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and other sensors 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 and rider’s app to check 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 someone losing their 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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