Uber has been working on a lot of features to make their rides safer for both the drivers and riders. One of the new features uses Microsoft’s Cognitive Services API for sophisticated facial recognition.
Uber announced the ‘Real-Time ID’ feature last week on their blog, and Microsoft showcased it at the Ignite event yesterday.
The feature is more of a requirement than anything – the drivers will have to take a selfie before they go online and start their day to verify themselves. It uses Microsoft’s Cognitive Services API to do the actual facial recognition.
This ID check would allow Uber to verify that it is indeed the driver at the helm of the vehicle, rather than someone else. This is not a one-time thing either – drivers would be asked to take a selfie every time they accept a ride.
If the Real-Time ID check fails for some reason, Uber temporarily blocks the driver’s account and manually looks at the issue.
Trials & Rollout
Uber has been running trials for the program since past few months across the U.S. According to Uber, 99% of drivers were able to successfully verify themselves, and those who couldn’t – were mostly due to unclear profile photos in Uber’s files.
For now, the service is only rolling out in the U.S., and plans for rolling it out worldwide have not been announced. The feature might cause problems to those who rent their vehicles to other drivers – a common practice in markets such as India. It is most probably against Uber’s ToS to do that anyway, so Uber would be in the right to block these drivers if it comes to that.
It is an unusual partnership, but it is surely more interesting than giving away a FIFA game. Though Microsoft’s part is limited to the facial recognition, none of this would have been possible with it.