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01 October 2019

Uber bolsters app features to boost micromobility

First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com

Uber is combining its ride-hailing and food delivery apps, while polishing its green credentials and launching a range of new features and partnerships.

There is a particular focus on micromobility: bikes and scooters will be displayed on the map inside the ride-hailing giant’s app in 28 cities to make it easier for users to view their options. The company is also expanding its in-app Transit option to include San Francisco, Mexico City and Paris.

New Uber Jump bikes and scooters will come with batteries which can be swapped on the go via a Jump charging kiosk. These bikes, scooters and charging infrastructure will be available in ‘select cities’ next year.

For ride-sharing safety, passengers can use the app to provide a four-digit PIN number to the driver to make sure they are in the correct car before starting their journey. Meanwhile, the On-Trip reporting feature now allows riders to report a safety incident. By the end of this month, users in more than 200 cities around the world will receive an in-app notification when being dropped off near a bike lane to ensure they keep an eye out for cyclists when leaving the vehicle.

Uber is also focusing on reducing carbon emissions, launching two methodologies – travel efficiency and carbon impact – to measure its emissions and says it intends to power all US offices with renewable energy by 2025.

Uber Rewards is expanding to allow customers to earn redeemable points when taking a trip or using Uber Eats. In the US, Uber Rewards members can choose the $0 delivery fee on Uber Eats orders, free meal items from partners like McDonald’s and Ben and Jerry’s and discounts on UberX rides. Members can earn points when using Uber abroad in a programme which will expand to Brazil and Mexico.

The company is introducing allergy-friendly filters on Uber Eats for people with dietary restrictions. When placing an order, users can communicate their allergy or restriction to restaurants through the app.

Additionally, the ride-hailing firm is partnering with restaurant chain Sweetgreen to expand its Uber Eats options, and has joined forces with non-profit organisation Feeding America. It will work with restaurants which use Uber Eats to donate excess food that would otherwise go to waste or use its freight network to move food donations between Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries.

Looking ahead, Uber is also to initiate a six-month entrepreneur in residence programme, which allows members to work with its incubator team to realise their businesses on Uber’s platform. The programme is open to employees and external applicants.

In a separate development, Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) is to manually drive autonomous vehicles (AV) in the US city of Dallas to collect data for high-definition maps.

In a blog post on M, head of Uber ATG Austin Geidt says the company will seek to capture everyday scenarios that can be recreated in simulation and on the test track.

Uber ATG is also hoping to refine its “expansion methodology”, which involves identifying “key characteristics” within in a new city. This data is then run through an autonomy system in simulation and on the test track to verify that it would perform as intended if it were on the road.

“The data we collect will inform our next steps — we may not look to test our self-driving system in Dallas immediately following this first round of data gathering,” Geidt adds.

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