Uber China Launches New Facial Recognition App

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Despite the numerous benefits the creation of Uber has offered to busy or stranded people around the world, the company continues to face problems with security. One of the most frequent issues Uber recognizes is ensuring its customers that the registered driver of the vehicle is, in fact, the person driving the car.

While car-sharing and unregistered drivers operating Uber vehicles is a problem throughout the globe, a country facing some of the most fraudulent activity is China. Now, new security measures will be put in place to further ensure the protection and safety of all Uber passengers.

Face++ adds facial recognition software to Uber driver app

A new Uber app feature, developed by China-based Face++, uses sophisticated facial recognition software to ensure that the person driving the car is the same person registered to do so. When new drivers sign up to the service, the recently unveiled feature takes a photograph of the driver’s face. Throughout each trip, it will then run facial recognition checks at random intervals, confirming whether or not the same person is still operating the vehicle.

In China, among other places, a frequently-used scam sees one person registering as an Uber driver, then sharing the duties and splitting the profits amongst a number of people. Doing this gives the registered driver the ability to operate around the clock, therefore earning more income. A huge downside is that passengers no longer have the security of knowing their driver has been approved by the company. This can come with a number of added risks. Uber drivers are subject to background and driving record checks before they are approved.

New Uber app feature to begin next month

The new feature on the Uber driver app will launch in China next month. The company has not announced if it has plans to release the same software in other regions.

Not much will change on the behalf of the passengers in China. Notable differences will be a more standardized photo of the drivers when customers are using the app, and to potential that a driver may have to do a recognition test while a passenger is with him or her.

This announcement comes amongst a number of recent changes and inclusions throughout Asia. One such localized update is the UberMOTO, a motorcycle hailing service that has only rolled out in a few key South and Southeast Asian markets this far, where motorcycle use is much more common than in most other parts of the world. There is also no word whether UberMOTO will spread to additional markets.

Face++, a tech company that quickly became one of China’s most sought-after startups for facial recognition, is excited about their partnership with Uber. They have also worked with numerous other Chinese giants, including Alibaba and Lenovo.

According to Face++, the face recognition feature works by detecting 83 points on the face, determining features such as age, race and gender, along with unique details the make up each human being.

No word yet on how the app reacts when a mismatch is found. Also yet to be determined is whether or not the app will know if the driver is driving the car, or merely a passenger.