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Uber’s new RideCheck feature could turn out to be a lifesaver

Uber is releasing a new safety feature for its ridesharing app that can assist riders and drivers who find themselves in a tricky situation, or worse.

RideCheck uses smartphone sensors to detect the movement of Uber’s vehicles. If the system’s algorithms determine that a car has made an unexpected or sudden stop during a ride, or is taking a particularly weird route, it’ll send an alert to both the driver and the rider to check that everything’s OK.

Tap on the alert and you’ll be presented with a range of options for responding, including, “I’m fine, I stopped on purpose,” “911 assistance,” “Call Uber safety line,” and “Report a crash.”

Depending on the response, Uber’s safety team might also follow up with a phone call to seek further confirmation about what’s happening.

Uber announced RideCheck in 2018, but has spent the last 12 months testing it with select riders in Los Angeles, Dallas, and several other cities across the U.S. The feature is set to expand to more countries “soon,” the company said.

In a blog post explaining RideCheck, Sachin Kansal, head of safety products at Uber, said the technology powering it will continue to evolve, with the team also working to add additional scenarios to the assistance screen.

Uber has spent the last few years working to improve the safety of its service with the addition of features that include Trusted Contacts, an in-app panic button, and a Safety Center section within the app.

Following a run-in with the authorities in London, Uber also promised to work on enhancing safety for not only riders, but drivers, too.

“Every day, our technology puts millions of people together in cars in cities around the world,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said last year. “Helping keep people safe is a huge responsibility, and one we do not take lightly. That’s why as CEO, I’m committed to putting safety at the core of everything we do.”

We’ve reached out to Uber to find out if it has any more safety features in the pipeline, and will update this piece if we hear back.

Uber’s RideCheck feature certainly looks like a useful addition to the ridesharing company’s service, and in extreme scenarios could even turn out to be a life saver.

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