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Uber aims for smoother pickups using color-coded windshield LEDs

While most of the time Uber drivers and riders have little difficulty finding one another, there are occasions – on crowded or dark streets, for example – where locating each other can prove a little more challenging.

That’s why Uber’s just rolled out a new pilot scheme called Spot, which, as its name sort of suggests, helps drivers and riders link up more quickly, making for smoother pickups.

Related: Uber looks to integrate other apps with “ride request button”

Drivers in Seattle that’ve been selected to test out the feature have been given an LED light strip to attach to the inside of their windshield.

Once a rider has a ride request accepted, the Uber app asks them to choose from one of six colors. The light in the driver’s car then glows in the selected color, making it easier for the rider to spot their car when it turns up. Working the other way, the rider can press and hold the color on their smartphone display, which’ll light up the screen in that color, making it easier for the Uber driver to find them.

Related: Uber wants more drivers and this is what it’s doing to get them

“When riders and drivers can easily find each other, we’re able to trim down wait times, which is a win for everyone,” Uber said in a post announcing the feature.

Identifying the car and driver can certainly be an issue for ride-hailing services. Not so long ago, Lyft used to stick a great big hairy mustache on the front of its cars, ensuring users could spot their rides miles off. But with drivers possibly feeling like a bit of a doofus with the furry pink appendage flapping about on the front of their vehicle, the company later swapped it for a slightly more discreet version that goes on the dashboard.

If the response to Uber’s Spot feature is positive, and wait times really are cut, we can expect the company to start sending out a whole load more of those light strips to drivers in other cities in the coming months.