A photo illustration shows the Uber app in use in London, Britain. Photo: Reuters
Ride-hailing major Uber has introduced several new features including one that can give passengers the tools that are needed to get help quickly in the event of a possible crash.
The feature, called Ride Check, harnesses the power of GPS and other sensors in the driver's smartphone to detect possible crash.
"When a Ride Check is initiated, riders and drivers will be prompted to use our Safety Toolkit, which includes the option for 911 assistance. Our safety team can also followup by phone to make sure everyone is safe," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement on Wednesday.
Uber launched the "Safety Toolkit" and in-app emergency button for riders in April and these features are now available across India, Canada, and the US, as well as countries throughout Latin America.
The Ride Check feature can also flag trip irregularities beyond crashes.
For example, if there is a long, unexpected stop during a trip, both the rider and the driver will receive a Ride Check notification to ask if everything is all right.
"They can let us know through the app that all is well, or take other actions like using the emergency button or reporting the issue to Uber's critical safety line," Khosrowshahi said.
"We expect to expand this technology to additional scenarios in the future," he added.
Uber also announced that it would soon start voice-activated commands designed to offer drivers and delivery partners a hands-free way to interact with the Uber app, so they can accept trips and communicate with customers using just their voice.
To protect the privacy of users, Uber's Driver app would only show the general area where a trip started and ended, not the address, Khosrowshahi said.
Uber also announced that it was extending the two-step verification process to give riders the option to use this feature every time they log into their account.
So one can now choose to use text messages or third-party authentication apps like Google Authenticator, Authy, or Duo by visiting their account settings and selecting their preferred method.
"You can expect to see these features in your app over the coming months, and there's more to come. That's because when it comes to safety, our work is never done," Khosrowshahi said.