Ride hailing platform Uber on Thursday said it will roll out new safety features, including a PIN verification for starting trips and RideCheck for long, unexpected stops, for users in India.

Interestingly, Uber's rival Ola already offer some of these features on its platform. It launched the OTP feature in 2017, while Ola Guardian feature was launched in September 2018 and recently in over 16 cities globally.

Through 'Guardian', Ola tracks all on-going trips by analysing ride indicators like route deviations, unexpected and midway stops. Based on the indicators and time of travel, Ola's Safety Response Team (SRT) provides assistance to customers.

Under the PIN verification feature, Uber users will receive a four-digit code when they book a ride that is to be shared with the driver partner to start the ride. Users will have to activate the feature in the app's setting.

Uber Senior Director of Global Safety Products Sachin Kansal said the feature is under pilot and should be rolled out to users in the next few weeks.

"In addition to the PIN, we are also working on advanced technologies that will feature ultrasound waves to automatically transmit the PIN for verifying rides," he added.

The RideCheck feature will enable Uber to flag certain trip irregularities, like long, unexpected stops or midway drops that might, in some rare cases, indicate an increased safety risk, especially for women.

"If an anomaly is detected, Uber will initiate a RideCheck by reaching out to both the rider and the driver through a push notification," Kansal said.

He added that the feature is being rolled out and will be available to all users in the country over the next two weeks. Also, a pilot is being run in Delhi and Kolkata to see if riders would prefer a call over a push notification, Kansal said.

Talking about the audio recording feature, he said both riders and driver partners can record audio during the ride.

"This audio is encrypted and can only be either deleted or shared with Uber. Neither party will be able to hear the recording. Once shared, the audio can help our agents better understand the issue and resolve them," he said.

The feature is currently in pilot in Mexico and Brazil, and Uber will look at testing it in the Indian market later this year.

Kansal said privacy is an important aspect and Uber will ensure compliance with local laws.

"Over the last three years, we have introduced several features to enhance safety standards on our platform. We have been piloting and refining these features in different markets globally to ensure that they work for riders and driver partners," Kansal said. PTI SR

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