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This article was published on January 26, 2016

Uber is using phone gyrometers to check if drivers are speeding or braking too hard

Uber is using phone gyrometers to check if drivers are speeding or braking too hard
Owen Williams
Story by

Owen Williams

Former TNW employee

Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.

It was only a matter of time until Uber tapped into the wealth of sensors available within smartphones to keep tabs on drivers, and today it’s confirmed that it’s testing exactly that.

The company has announced today that it’s running a pilot program that leverages smartphone gyrometers to detect if drivers are speeding, along with how hard they brake.

The idea is if a user submits feedback that the driver had done any of these things, the company can review the gyrometer data to see if it’s true, ensuring that the rider wasn’t complaining about nothing — that way, the driver’s rating isn’t affected if it’s untrue.

The company is also hoping to use the data more widely in the future, such as to determine if drivers are moving their phones around too much or detect when drivers go too fast on a particular route.

Uber using driver gyrometer data is an interesting test, however it raises questions about whether or not the drivers actually know it’s happening. The post doesn’t mention if the test pilot is opt-in, or if drivers have a choice about whether the data is collected — but it sounds like the company didn’t ask them at all.

According to a spokesperson for Uber, the company “only [uses] data that comes from drivers when they are signed into the app” and “partners understand that technology like GPS-monitoring is an important part of that.” 

That said, using the gyrometer is a great way to get specific data on drivers that aren’t keeping to the law and could be potentially endangering riders. It also means complaints can be backed up by real world evidence for the first time.

Curb Your Enthusiasm [Uber Newsroom]

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