Uber said today it is beginning to roll out three safety features in India as the American ride-hailing firm looks to improve its service in one of its most important overseas markets.
The new features include an intervention from Uber when there is a long unplanned stop in a ride, and the introduction of a four-digit authentication code to ensure a passenger is getting in the right car. Both the features are rolling out to users starting today, company executives said at a press event in New Delhi.
Uber has previously rolled out these features in the U.S., and Ola, its local rival in India, has also offered these functionalities for a long time. Uber said it will also allow riders and drivers in India to record their entire trip and send it to the company if they are feeling uncomfortable. This feature, Uber said, will be in the testing phase in the country later this year. (Ola does not offer this feature, but local bus ridesharing service Shuttl has tested this in the past.)
The first feature, dubbed Ride Check, activates in the event of a long, unexpected stop or other irregularities in a ride. When Uber detects that, it calls both the rider and the driver to check if everything is alright. The company relies on the driver partner’s smartphone to detect any interruption.
Uber's Sachin Kansal talks about new safety features at an event in New Delhi
Ola has been testing a similar feature, called "Guardian," since September 2018. The startup said last month that it was rolling out Guardian in more than a dozen Indian cities, as well as in Perth, Australia.
Uber is also rolling out a feature that would require passengers to provide a four-digit pin to verify if they are in the right car. Until they have provided the authentication code, the ride will not begin. India’s Ola has provided this feature for several years.
Additionally, Uber said it has partnered with Manas Foundation, which has conducted thousands of customised gender sensitivity workshops for driver partners in India to make the platform safer for women. More than 50,000 driver partners have already been trained, the company said.
Sachin Kansal, senior director of Global Safety Products at Uber, said the company has been piloting and refining these features in different markets globally. "Privacy is incredibly important for Uber and all these tools are designed keeping that in mind. We will continue to refine these technologies so we can help make every ride a 5-star experience for all."