In a major update in the cab-hailing sector, Uber has announced that it will be providing its drivers with real time feedback on their driving patterns through its app. The application will soon deploy the sensors in the driver’s smartphones to tell them when they are going too fast or braking harshly.
The updated application is rolling out this very week to drivers in select cities. Through its app, Uber will be able to monitor and provide feedback to drivers on their driving behaviour and perhaps help them improve the same. Along with braking and acceleration, drivers will also be warned when they attempt to drive too fast. A summary for trip will also be generated that will include separate scores for acceleration and braking and a map highlighting the physical location of each incident.
In certain cities that are part of the test phase, Uber is also testing a feature that will detect when the drivers attempt to use their phones while driving. The company says that it is doing so, only to make sure that its drivers have some solid feedback to base their driving upon, rather than the one to five star ratings given to them by their customers.
The company also said that during its tests, drivers won’t face any negative results for low scores on the new safety measures. However, the company did say that it was an option for the future.
I find it a very probable prospect that if the testing goes well, Uber will be almost certain to implement the new app as its direct connection to the driver and it will use the means at its disposal — including stuff like bonuses, paycuts perhaps? — to make sure that they toe the line — a line set by Uber.
There are good things to be said for the update as well. After all, ensuring that the ride is smoother will mean a better customer experience and by making sure that drivers follow traffic rules and refrain from doing things like chatting on the go, the app will also be preventing accidents. What’s more, it may also help them understand their own driving better.
Speaking on the topic to the WSJ, Mikeal Gibson, an Uber driver in San Francisco said,
I’ve heard that the only reason [customers] give people less stars is for poor driving and bad behavior, so delineating those two would be useful.
Meanwhile, the new system will also help Uber protect its drivers from the sometimes-false allegations made by customers.
However, another face of the case is that with this update, Uber will be invading even deeper into the privacy of its drivers. While proponents of the system say that the benefits brought by it outweigh any issues, the fact remains that drivers will basically be tracked and not sticking to the Uber-made rules could also see them lose their jobs.
Meanwhile, Lyft — Uber’s arch-rival in the US — is still wary of using the telemetry technology in its cars citing the fact that it isn’t completely reliable and still in the early stage of its development, as its reasons. Chris Lambert, the company’s chief technology officer had spoken on the topic in January,
There is a lot of work to be done to make the technology perfect in terms of identifying the events and determining what accurately leads to safer drivers.
And there is something in that. I mean what if the driver speeded up or braked harshly to save someone’s life? The app is certainly not so developed yet, that it will be able to differentiate between good and bad driving apart from a certain parameters — which is why Uber may just have hurried into the testing phase.
That being said though, there may still be time before the company actually implements its rules upon its drivers. Lets hope that the final version of the same — if implemented — doesn’t make dummies out of our drivers and still lets them use their own judgement in situations that require them, without fear of punishment.