Uber now conducts real-time background checks for its drivers as a means of improving safety for its riders.
The ride-hailing startup began testing the system in the US earlier this month and has since removed 25 people from being Uber drivers, according to Axios.
The move comes as Uber has encountered repeated issues with violent or abusive drivers.
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Uber began testing the system in the US earlier this month and has since removed 25 people from being Uber drivers. It’s partnering with background check service Checkr and Appriss
Uber is partnering with background check service Checkr and safety data provider Appriss to conduct the checks.
Appriss collects the data in real time and then notifies Uber if a driver has a new criminal offense, Axios noted.
The firm then decides whether it wants to suspend the driver based on that data.
‘Ultimately what we’re looking for…is a way to get the same kind of info as in a background check, but get it in a real-time manner,’ Uber vice president of safety and insurance Gus Fuldner told Axios.
The move comes after Uber in April said it would introduce annual criminal background checks on US drivers and a revamped app that makes it easier for riders to share their location.
Riders will be able to nominate five people who will automatically receive their route during every journey and press a button within the app to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also pledged to recruit a company that constantly monitors arrests by police forces across America so drivers suspected of a crime can be immediately dealt with.
New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi (pictured at Davos on June 23, 2018) unveiled the new safety measures on Thursday. Right: Uber’s San Francisco headquarters pictured on June 21, 2017
Since it began operating in 2009, Uber has been dogged by reports of drivers accosting passengers, including lawsuits alleging sexual assaults.
Last year the company was fined $8.9 million by the state of Colorado for allowing people with serious criminal or motor vehicle offenses to work as drivers.
The Public Utilities Commission said it found nearly 60 people were allowed to drive in the state despite having previous felony convictions or major traffic violations including drunken driving.
Khosrowshahi, formerly CEO of the Expedia travel booking site, replaced hard-charging co-founder Travis Kalanick in August. Kalanick is pictured in San Francisco on February 7 after an Uber court case
Khosrowshahi insisted the changes were not solely being done to polish the company’s tarnished image.
‘The first thing that we want to do is really change Uber’s substance, and the image may follow,’ he said.
‘The announcements that we’re making are just a step along the way of making Uber fundamentally safer for drivers and riders.’
Khosrowshahi, formerly CEO of the Expedia travel booking site, replaced hard-charging co-founder Travis Kalanick in August and faced problems almost from the start.
Most recently, he has had to grapple with his company’s autonomous vehicle program after one of its SUVs struck and killed a pedestrian last month in Tempe, Arizona.
Khosrowshahi said the company’s exponentially fast growth prevented steps like the annual background checks from being done sooner.
‘I can’t change the past, but I can change the things that we do going forward,’ he said.
Uber does 15 million trips per day worldwide, and its drivers ‘reflect the good and the bad and the random events of the world,’ Khosrowshahi said.
It was bad policy for Uber to do just one background check for drivers and never follow up, said Thomas Mauriello, a senior lecturer of forensic science at the University of Maryland.
Since it began operating in 2009, Uber has been dogged by reports of drivers accosting passengers, including lawsuits alleging sexual assaults. File photo
HOW DID AN UBER AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE HIT AND KILL A WOMAN IN ARIZONA?
A self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle on March 19, 2018.
The accident prompted the ride-hailing company to suspend road-testing of such cars in the US and Canada.
The Volvo SUV was in self-driving mode with a human back-up operator behind the wheel in Tempe when a woman walking a bicycle was hit.
Elaine Herzberg, 49, died in hospital.
Police have said that the victim, 49 year old Elaine Herzberg, stepped out in front of the car suddenly and they do not believe the car was to blame.
Uber suspended its self-driving vehicle testing in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
The testing has been going on for months as car makers and technology companies compete to be the first with cars that operate on their own.
Uber’s self-driving car crash that led to the death of a mother-of-two could have been avoided, driverless vehicle experts have claimed.
Cortica, a firm that develops artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles, has analysed the dash cam video.
The company concludes the car, which failed to brake or swerve before the collision, had enough time to react and potentially save Ms Herzberg’s life.
Speaking to CNET, Cortica’s CEO Igal Raichelgauz said the firm’s self-driving AI system detected Ms Herzberg 0.9 seconds before impact.
At this point the car was around 50 feet (15 metres) away.
He said the autonomous car’s cameras and radar system should have had enough time to pick up the pedestrian and react to the situation.
Driverless cars are fitted with a system of cameras, radar and lidar sensors that allow them to ‘see’ their surroundings and detect traffic, pedestrians and other objects.
An AI computer system then decides what actions the car takes to avoid a collision – a setup that is supposed to work as well at night as during the day.
A top executive for the maker of Lidar sensors used on Uber’s self-driving car said she was ‘baffled’ as to why the vehicle failed to recognise Ms Herzberg.
But he sees the changes as positive, potentially catching bad behavior after a driver is hired on.
‘Any check is better than no check,’ he said. ‘Nobody should think that any check they do is going to be 100 percent foolproof and get all information.’
Some local governments now require background checks after drivers are hired, but the company’s policy makes it uniform nationwide.
Uber will conduct its annual background checks through a company called Checkr starting in the next few weeks.
It still does not intend to do FBI fingerprint background checks, saying its check of court records and other databases is robust, fair and ‘stacks up well against the alternatives.’
A company, which Uber would not identify, has been hired to continually check arrest data, and that also will begin in a few weeks, Uber said.