Uber using high-frequency soundwaves to automatically verify a ride to improve safety

Uber using high-frequency soundwaves to automatically verify a ride to improve safety

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November 29, 2021

Now that COVID restrictions are lifting across the country (assuming Omicron doesn’t put a stop to that) Aussies are looking forward to getting out to their favourite bars, restaurants and sporting events to enjoy the summer season after months of lockdown and thinking towards the holiday break where they celebrate with family and friends.

Uber recently announced the launch of a new pre-ride safety feature to ensure you’re getting into the correct vehicle and giving that extra peace of mind before you start your ride. I’m not sure how often this occurred, but clearly, enough times where Uber decided to spend engineering effort on it.

Typically riders request the ride through the Uber app, the car’s make, model, colour and driver name is shown, along with the vehicle’s registration. When the car arrives, you confirm it’s the right vehicle with a quick check that the license plate matches what’s displayed in your app.

The new wireless verification feature adds an additional layer to the existing PIN code feature that launched over a year ago. However, instead of verbally providing the driver-partner with the PIN code in order to start the trip in the app, this feature automatically transmits a rider’s PIN directly to their driver partner’s mobile device through sound waves to verify the ride.

Uber is rolling out the new feature in Victoria first, which will be followed by an Australian-wide rollout in the following months.

How it works:

  1. Ensure you’ve opted in to pin verification. Head to settings in your Uber app, down to safety and select ‘Verify your trip’. You can also select to do this between the night time hours of 9pm- 6am if you prefer. 
  2. As your ride approaches and pulls to a stop, stand within two metres of the car and once your driver partner puts their window down, wait for the sound waves to transmit with your driver partner’s device. For this feature to work and the soundwaves to transmit, you need to ensure your phone isn’t plugged into headphones or earjacks, or you’re not on a call. 
  3. Once the wireless pin is verified, hop in the car and get buckled in. To adhere to social distancing, we’re asking riders to sit in the back seat, stick to three riders per Uber X and open the window for ventilation.

Uber continues to build cutting-edge technology and in app safety features designed to support you with a quick tap of a button. For these safety features to be effective, riders need to be in the right car.

Uber is strongly encouraging everyone to verify every ride – check the license plate of the vehicle, and the driver partner’s photo as well as ensuring you’ve opted in to use the wireless verification feature before getting into the vehicle. If your driver-partner doesn’t match the photo or number plate, we encourage riders to report it to Uber right away so we can take action.

While the vast majority (99.9%) of Uber trips end without a safety related report, when an incident does occur we strongly encourage and provide multiple avenues for riders and driver-partners to provide feedback so we can help keep the entire Uber community safe. 

Through feedback channels like the in-app On-Trip Reporting feature, riders are able to easily and discreetly report non-emergency situations where they may feel uncomfortable and our safety team follows up after the trip. 

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