Uber rolls out new safety feature, while India mandates ‘brakes with brains’ for all vehicles

by Elton Gomes

Celebrating CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s first anniversary, Uber will be introducing several new safety features for both riders and drivers. One of these improvements will including a feature called “Ride Check” that makes use of the GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and other sensors inside a smartphone to detect whether there has been a vehicle crash.

What will Ride Check do?

In the event of a crash, the Uber app will automatically send a notification to a rider’s phone. The notification will prompt the rider to answer some questions. If the rider verifies that there has been an accident, the rider will then be prompted to call 911. Additionally, Uber’s team of safety operators might also reach out to ensure that the passengers are safe, once the feature is triggered.

For example, in the event of a long, unexpected stop during a trip, both the rider and the driver will receive a Ride Check notification asking whether everything is alright. ”They can let us know through the app that all is well, or take other actions like using the emergency button or reporting the issue to Uber’s critical safety line,” Khosrowshahi said. “We expect to expand this technology to additional scenarios in the future,” he added, IANS reported.

More importantly, the feature does not require any new permissions as it is linked to the driver’s smartphone, rather than the riders. This is because drivers almost always have the Uber app open more frequently as compared to riders.

Gadkari mandates ADAS

Speaking at the SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) annual convention in New Delhi, Union transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced that the government plans to make installation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) mandatory in all cars by 2022. At present, in India, only luxury carmakers offer ADAS in their cars, and even those are limited to expensive cars costing under Rs 40 lakh.

The ADAS machinery functions automatically if it comes across any object on the road, so as to avoid accidents. “We have already held one round of discussion with the stakeholders including the industry. This feature is likely to become mandatory in some western countries by 2021. So, we are also advancing our plan,” an official from the transport ministry said, the Times of India reported.

Road accidents in India

In India, traffic accidents claim lives of more than 150,000 people. The figure amounts to approximately 400 fatalities a day and it is far higher than developed markets like the US, which recorded around 40,000 deaths in 2016.

A 2016 report on Road Accidents in India also had bad news for the country. The report revealed that more people died in road accidents in India in 2016, as compared to the number of deaths in 2015. According to the report, the country recorded at least 4,80,652 accidents in 2016, which resulted in 1,50,785 deaths. This figure suggests that at least 413 people died every day in 1,317 road accidents.

Future technologies to avoid accidents

It is extremely imperative for India to develop technologies that address road accidents. Self-driving cars in the future will be useful in avoiding accidents. As self-driving cars will be able to communicate with each other, the number of accidents is likely to go down. Furthermore, sensors in these cars will detect pedestrians, bicycles, and will adjust the car’s speed accordingly. India will have to rely on such technology to reduce the number of accidents. Mandatory installation of a braking system could be a first step in that direction.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

Dara KhosrowshahiNitin GadkariUber