- Uber is launching a verification system to ensure riders find the right driver.
- The move comes after the grisly murder of a college student in May who got in a vehicle she assumed was her Uber.
- The company is also working on an automatic, ultrasound system to verify matches between drivers and riders.
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Uber plans to launch a new, optional safety feature to help ensure that riders get into the right vehicles.
The four-digit PIN verification system, in which riders will say aloud to their driver before they can start the ride, comes after the grisly murder of a South Caroline college student that made headlines around the world.
In Samantha Josephson’s case, the 21-year-old University of South Carolina entered a vehicle assuming it was her Uber ride, when it was in fact her would-be murderer.
Previously, riders were asked to verify a vehicle’s model and license plate number to ensure they were at the right car.
The announcement came as CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took the stage at an announcement event in San Francisco.
Uber is also working on an ultrasound technology to communicate with a driver’s phone to perform the same verification automatically, and demonstrated the product at the event.
Safety has been a big focus for Uber in recent months, as stories of attacks on both riders and drivers continue to come out. New features have included a “panic button” that connects riders directly to emergency services, as well as a “ride check” that alerts Uber safety staff if a ride deviates from its expected course.
However, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the company’s safety team was often instructed to protect the company’s interests before the riders’, and often prevents the company from proactively sharing incidents with authorities.
On Thursday, Uber also announced a text-based emergency service for riders who may not be able to talk on the phone in their current situation. That service can also share real-time location with emergency responders.
Drivers will also soon be required to use an enhanced verification tool, which asks them to not only take a selfie, but also move their head in order to be certain they match the uploaded identification.
This story is developing, check back for updates …