Uber denies misleading passengers with ‘phantom cars’ on app

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Are Uber screen cars just phantoms?.

The claim was made by Alex Rosenblat and Luke Stark, a pair of researchers from the Data & Society thinktank. The company has responded to claims that it shows users of its app “phantom cars” that don’t actually exist, saying the reason why a driver’s location may not always be accurately reflected in the passenger app is due to factors like latency, driver safety and desire to maintain a good user experience within the app.Researchers analysed the firm’s app, and fund that the cars shown often didn’t tally up with the expected times – forcing Uber to admit the maps don’t always show the ‘real’ cars nearby.The researchers said: “The presence of those virtual cars on the passenger’s screen does not necessarily reflect an accurate number of drivers who are physically present or their precise locations”. Uber drivers in the US have claimed that the smartphone-based car service often displays ‘phantom cars’, which are not actually circling the location, when customers request a journey.

Against the backdrop of an earlier this week post on Vice that some of the cars which Uber shows on the map are actually not available, Uber said in a Thursday statement that it does not – at least intentionally – have any phantom cars in its app. Rosenblat and Stark cited driver and passenger testimonies which suggested that the app shows cars present in the passengers’ vicinity even when none are there. Research from Alex Rosenblat, a New York-based data researcher who studied how Uber drivers interact with the Uber app, alleges that Uber customers are manipulated by the symbols on their screens. “If a potential passenger opened up the app and saw no cars around, she might take another cab service. It would be better of you to think of this as a screen saver on a computer.” “Our goal is for the number of cars and their location to be as accurate as possible in real time,” a spokesperson told the Guardian. “Latency is one reason this is not always possible.

The magnitude of surge can vary across a given region. ‘Also, to protect the safety of drivers, in some volatile situations, the app doesn’t show the specific location of individual cars until the ride is requested.’ Venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson recently recounted his conversation with Kalanick at the 17th annual Top 10 Tech Trends dinner in San Jose, California, Forbes reported. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you’re at … the car is going to be just like that,’ he told NVidia’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang at the company’s annual developers conference in March. When Heather questioned Uber about the discrepancy, she was told the app merely displayed a “screen saver”. “The app is simply showing there are partners on the road at the time,” a company representative told her in an email. While it is possible that a customer might wait longer than expected for a auto, even if it appears to be down the road, it’s not a means of trickery. Tesla is among many firms that have added self-driving features to its cars and joins the likes of BMW, Volvo and Google, which are developing cars that could drive themselves completely.

Tesla’s Model S features an ‘autopilot’ mode, which uses sensors to stop drivers drifting accidently between motorway lanes, as well as moderate speed and brake when necessary. Zooming in on the area around Mashable’s downtown San Francisco office, for example, shows eight nearby cars while zooming in on my neighborhood 4 miles away also showed eight nearby drivers.

Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. In one of many driver forum threads about the “ghost cars,” a driver said that Uber claimed it was just a technical issue: This came up in our weekly virtual Uber webinar.

CREEPY And now that this research corroborates suspicions that Uber is manipulating its passenger maps to make it look like there are more drivers, more Uber drivers are noticing: I’ve asked Uber for clarification on its map/screen saver.

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