Uber using smartphone sensors to spot erratic drivers

Uber using smartphone sensors to spot erratic drivers

Uber is tracking some of its drivers’ actions to determine whether they are driving erratically, the company said on Tuesday.

The company’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, wrote in a blog post that the Uber can use the sensors in smartphones used by its drivers to verify customer feedback.

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“If a rider complains that a driver accelerated too fast and broke too hard, we can review that trip using data,” Sullivan wrote. “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.”

According to the Guardian, which  was the first to report on the existence of the pilot program, the test started late last year in Houston. The newspaper reported that drivers are not explicitly told that the data is being recorded.

Sullivan mentioned other ways the company is, or might, look to alter driver and rider behavior in the name of safety.

“For example, if gyrometer data shows that drivers are constantly moving their phones around, we can offer them mounts to fix the problem,” he said. “Or we could use technology to determine that the average South Florida Uber driver goes 50MPH and takes 50 minutes to drive from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. For drivers who go much faster on that stretch, we can ask them to curb their enthusiasm.”

He also said drivers in Charlotte, N.C. are using an unconventional method for keeping drunk passengers at bay: the children's toy Bop It.

“Folks there have found it’s a great way to keep drunk riders entertained so they don’t distract their driver,” he said.