Big Brother Uber Taps Into Smartphone Gyroscope Data To Flag Speeding Drivers

Part of the reason why Uber is so popular is because of its feedback system. Drivers rate passengers and passengers rate drivers, a sort of check-and-balance system between two parties. But what if negative feedback isn't warranted? As a means of investigating complaints, Uber has launched a pilot program that uses smartphone technologies to see how a driver performs.

"Gyrometers in phones can measure small movements, while GPS and accelerometers show how often a vehicle starts and stops, as well as its overall speed. If a rider complains that a driver accelerated too fast and broke too hard, we can review that trip using data," Uber explains. "If the feedback is accurate, then we can get in touch with the driver. And if it’s not, we could use the information to make sure a driver’s rating isn’t affected."


Whether or not Uber drivers feel comfortable with the company playing the part of Big Brother remains to be seen. It all depends on how Uber handles things. The pitch from Uber at the moment is that this benefits both parties. For drivers, it means that unwarranted complaints won't ding their rating, and for passengers, it might make them more comfortable using Uber more often.

What about Uber drivers with lead feet? Uber acknowledges that "we all drive too fast from time to time," but also points out that it's the root cause of many accidents—citing data from 2012, Uber says speeding was responsible for nearly a third of all fatal accidents in the U.S.

Using GPS data, Uber can determine if a driver is speeding, how often he or she speeds, and how far over the posted speed limit a driver typically goes.

"We could use technology to determine that the average South Florida Uber driver goes 50MPH and takes 50 minutes to drive from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. For drivers who go much faster on that stretch, we can ask them to curb their enthusiasm," Uber says.

Uber might also get in touch with a driver if a passenger complains of fast starts and hard braking behavior, both of which can be verified using GPS and accelerometer data.

Bottom line? If you're an Uber driver, this is extra incentive to pay attention to your driving habits.
Tags:  Privacy, Apps, uber