Uber explains why accurately showing all cars in its app is ‘not always possible’

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Are Uber screen cars just phantoms?.

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.US researcher Alex Rosenblat alleges that the company uses ‘phantom’ cars to give customers a false sense of the number of drivers available at any one location. 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. As part of a project for Microsoft FUSE Labs, Rosenblat interviewed US-based drivers, who say that there are discrepancies between the driver and the passenger version of the app. “The app’s map showed four drivers on the streets immediately by her pick-up location.

It quoted Uber employees who said the way the Uber app shows cars is a “visualization” more akin to a “screensaver” than an actual representation of where the cars are. According to the investigation, the black symbols are sometimes “phantoms” that make you think there are cars around, but according to drivers and users, that is not completely true.

However, the allegation that the app displays a “visual representation” rather than the real-time position of cars in the proximity was categorically denied by Uber’s UK office. In response to questions around the app’s accuracy, one Uber staff member reportedly told Heather that driver locations are meant to be more of a ‘screen saver.’ “This is not a representation of the exact numbers of drivers or their location. 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. Alex Rosenblat and Luke Stark, researchers studying Uber’s user interaction, discovered that the map Uber shows passengers of its available local drivers isn’t very accurate/may be intentionally misleading.

He suggested that Uber’s CEO believes self-driving cars are the future, saying Kalanick told him that if Tesla’s cars are autonomous by 2020, he would buy all 500,000 that are expected to be produced. ‘It would be like an elevator. Research from Alex Rosenblat, a New York-based data researcher, who studied how the drivers working for the service used the app, says that 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.

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.

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. The cars you see in the app are the cars on the road.” The allegation is now one of the many things Uber will have to deal with, even though no proof has yet been posted by the company that mentioned this. 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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