Uber said it plans to use biometrics, lie detectors, voice fingerprinting and other high-tech means to verify identities and conduct background checks on potential drivers. The move comes in the wake of a driver’s arrest for allegedly raping a woman in Boston and other sexual assault complaints against the San Francisco-based ridesharing service.
“Putting safety first for each of the one million trips we are doing every day means setting strict safety standards, then working hard to improve them every day,” Phil Cardenas, head of global safety at Uber, said in a blog post on Wednesday. “We owe it to all our riders, driver partners and communities around the world to examine what we can do better and then do everything we can to make more progress on safety.”
Along with the new safety technologies, Cardenas verified that Uber will be cooperating with local law enforcement and officials to ensure riders feel safe. He also promised Uber would increase the “number of cities and countries where background checks are conducted.” Uber’s two-way feedback system will also be improved, and former Amazon employee Tim Collins is coming aboard to lead global support.
“Executing well in these areas, acting on recommendations suggested by partners and drawing on experience gleaned by delivering 140 million rides worldwide this year will lead to a new standard in safety for transportation,” Cardenas added.
Earlier this month, a woman in New Delhi was allegedly raped by an Uber driver. On Dec. 6, a female Boston resident was allegedly kidnapped and raped by another Uber driver, Alejandro Drone, 46, who reportedly drove the victim to a secluded area and locked the car doors, then struck and strangled her before the assault.
In addition to the alleged incidents, Uber’s CEO came under fire last month for threatening to smear journalists critical of the company.
“No background check can predict future behavior and no technology can yet fully prevent bad actions,” Cardenas warned passengers on Wednesday, but added, "we will not shy away from this task.”