Uber Using GPS Tracking to Monitor Drivers Speeding and Hard Braking

25 Feb 2016

Mid way through 2015, Uber, the mobile ride sharing company, began to track its China drivers through the use of GPS tracking. During this time, the GPS tracking devices were used to track if the drivers were attending protests in the Eastern China city of Hangzhou. Even though the protests were thought to be an isolated occurrence, Uber started up a new pilot program to monitor some of its drivers quietly.

Uber has said that if any of their drivers disobeyed their commands, they would cancel their contracts, according to The Wall Street Journal. The GPS coordinates would help the company find out if indeed any drivers were being part of the protests. The program was put in place to maintain social order, the company stated.

The program is also going to help the company out with customer complaints about its drivers braking too hard or speeding. Small movements can be measured through phone gyrometers while accelerometers and GPS tracking can indicate the overall speed of its vehicles as well as how often they start and stop, says Uber’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan. If a complaint comes in that a driver braked too hard or was speeding, the company can use data to review that particular trip.

Improving safety proactively is another plan that Uber intends on using the data it gathers for. If the phones of drivers are being moved around too often, the company can provide its drivers with mounts as a solution. Also, if drivers tend to speed often, the company can approach them on the situation and ask them to slow down, Sullivan says.

Passenger safety implications are encouraging, however, drivers will no doubt complain about Uber using this GPS tracking to monitor their driving.

Starting in June, Uber is being challenged with a class action lawsuit that states that its drivers are independent contractors and it could result in some control be taken away from Uber on the working conditions of its drivers.

Uber serves over a million rides each day in China, according to The Financial Times. It does have a big competitor; Didi Kuaidi, but the company already serves 11 China cities and intends on serving over 50. Passenger safety continues to be Uber’s priority.

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