Uber in the present day announced it’ll roll out expertise to its cellular app to confirm whether or not drivers are sporting a masks. As a part of a brand new guidelines designed to make sure drivers have taken security measures to forestall the unfold of coronavirus, the app will apply a pc imaginative and prescient algorithm to drivers’ selfies to detect the presence (or absence) of face coverings. Riders, who gained’t be topic to the identical course of however who should verify that they’ve taken the identical precautions, will probably be alerted by way of an in-app message after they hail a experience that their driver is masking their face. Drivers who don’t put on cowl their face gained’t have the ability to choose up prospects starting on May 18, and people who repeatedly present up with no masks will probably be topic to dropping their entry to Uber.
Uber says the brand new system, which will probably be in place via not less than the top of June, is meant to adapt to altering public well being steerage and rules across the pandemic. It follows the launch of a trial in France to combine AI instruments from startup DatakaLab into safety cameras within the Paris metro system to examine whether or not passengers are sporting face masks, and it speaks to one thing of a rising pattern. Models counsel that that donning masks can considerably scale back the unfold of coronavirus when a overwhelming majority of the inhabitants participates, however compliance stays a problem in international locations just like the U.S., the place face coverings have turn out to be a political symbol. AI methods like Uber’s and DatakaLab’s might assist guarantee the security of passengers and drivers whereas lowering confrontation.
Short of clarifying that the mask-checking system doesn’t course of biometric info or examine selfies to driver photographs in its database, Uber was obscure concerning the particulars. This is considerably regarding — the corporate’s Real-Time ID Check system, which is designed to scale back fraud by periodically prompting drivers to submit selfies earlier than they start a driving session, brought about a transgender Iowa driver to overlook out on about three days of labor, together with a profitable vacation. Quite a lot of research, comparable to one revealed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology in December, have discovered that laptop imaginative and prescient methods are inclined to misidentify ladies and folks of sure ethnicities extra usually than white males.
In response to the incident involving the Iowa driver, Uber stated that Real-Time ID Check — which is powered by Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services — finally verified 99% of drivers throughout a pilot in 2016. And it says that the brand new mask-wearing examine makes use of a separate system that doesn’t leverage any Real-Time ID Check expertise. Still, it stays to be seen whether or not it’s prone to errors — notably at a time when ride-hailing drivers are struggling to make ends meet.
“During the first phase of the crisis, it’s been heartening to see our communities come together with a collective sense of responsibility,” wrote Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a press release. “As we move into the new normal, it’s our goal to encourage this same sense of shared responsibility: Uber, riders, drivers, delivery people and restaurants — we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe and healthy.”
Uber additionally introduced in the present day that in the interim, solely three passengers will probably be allowed in every automobile throughout its product line, and that they’ll be prohibited from using within the entrance seat. The firm additionally pledged to donate $50 million in masks, hand sanitizers, and different cleansing provides.