Uber is rolling out a selfie feature on its app so that drivers can verify that some bikers are wearing face masks.
It will apply to motorcyclists who have previously been reported for not wearing a mask.
The selfie scanner, for use in the US and Canada by the end of September and other regions thereafter, will look for mask-like coverage on the mouth and nose.
Currently, drivers have to take a mask selfie every day before starting work.
If the scanner does not detect that the driver is wearing a mask, it cannot use the app to pick up passengers.
Uber introduced a “No Mask No Ride” policy on May 18 and extended it indefinitely due to the ongoing pandemic, requiring both drivers and motorcyclists to always wear a face cover during a ride.
Drivers and motorcyclists can cancel a trip for free if they report that the other party is not wearing a mask. Failure to comply can lead to account deactivation.
Demand for taxi travel dropped dramatically during the coronavirus lockdown, especially in the United States.
In a tweet, Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi said the move was to help protect drivers and passengers. “We are all in this together,” he said.
Uber said it hopes the feature is a useful reminder of its policy for customers just returning to the service.
“No facial recognition”
“We absolutely wanted to make sure we target this feature for cyclists who are perhaps just returning to the platform and perhaps are unaware of our goggle policy,” said Sachin Kansal, senior director of product management at Uber.
Uber said the selfie feature doesn’t use facial recognition technology, it simply detects the mask as an object on the face.
The company said it will store the selfie photos for 96 hours to resolve potential disputes, but then permanently delete them, Uber said.
Uber says it has given drivers $ 50 million worth of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, spray and wipes. The company said it has distributed masks to 1.4 million drivers around the world.