COVID-19 Cases

Use face detection tech to ensure Uber drivers wear masks

Image:-driver is wearing a face covering

With COVID-19 concerns still transforming the future of travel, Uber is the latest company to announce new requirements for the face coverage, which the company intends partly to implement through new face detection technology.

Beginning on Monday, all Uber drivers and riders are required to wear masks by the end of June in the United States , Canada and Mexico.

Before drivers start accepting rides, a "Go Online Checklist" is required in the application. This list includes taking a photo of yourself with the cover of your face.

Sachin Kansal, Uber's global Head of Safety Products, showed ABC News how the new software in the application can determine whether a driver is wearing photo-based facial coverings. The driver can not go online if the face cover is not detected.

"This works with every mask," Kansal told ABC News' correspondent for transportation Gio Benitez. "We gave drivers tips on how to create their own mask and how to use a bandana. We would like them to have something approved by CDC."

When passengers do what the company calls their second first journey, they will have to complete a checklist similar to their drivers, but they don't have to take a picture of themselves covered by the face. Passengers must confirm they have a mask, agree to sit in the back and open ventilation windows.

We plan to hold drivers accountable by encouraging drivers to cancel trips without penalties if the rider doesn't wear a mask and has established a two-way feedback system.

"The way we succeed in emerging from the pandemic is shared responsibility," said Kansal. "This is not only the responsibility of a driver, not only that of a rider, not only the responsibility of the supplier. If we will all remain safe and healthy in future, we all will play a role."

"We definitely saw signs of some of the pandemic effects in Asia and set up a committee very early on," said Kansal.

Uber has tested new features through focus groups with riders and drivers over Zoom.

"We asked them what would give them peace of mind when using Uber," explained Kansal. "The feedback was very, very strong, so we're very sure it's the right thing."

Uber says that it has allocated $50 million to cleaning and protecting drivers, like masks , gloves, hand sanitizers, disinfective sprays and wipes. The company has also worked with the WHO and the CDC to develop safety education videos to help "best practises" for riders and drivers.

The company recently laid down 3,500 employees in a Zoom Call round reporting rides have fallen by more than 50% in the pandemic.

"To allow employees to go is never easy or uncomplicated, and that was only true during the never before seen period, when we all work from home through dozens of towns and countries," an Uber Speaker stated in a statement. "We have focused on providing the clearest and most empathic experience, and have developed a strong severance package and other benefits."

Article Edited by | John Heine |

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