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Uber explores using biometrics and lie detectors to screen drivers

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Uber has come under fire for allegedly doing little to protect passengers from unscrupulous drivers, and it's determined to improve that reputation -- in some cases, using relatively unusual methods. The ridesharing company's recently hired Head of Global Safety, Philip Cardenas, tells customers that Uber is exploring numerous techniques for verifying drivers, such as biometrics, voice fingerprinting and lie detector tests. "Scientific analysis and technology" should help make up for gaps in background check infrastructure around the world, Cardenas says.

The company isn't leaning solely on improved screening to protect you. It's developing an emergency system that will let you quickly reach family (and Uber itself) if you're at risk, and it's also improving its response network with the aim of providing "immediate" support if your ride goes wrong. The combined effort could go a long way toward keeping dangerous drivers away from Uber and giving you more tools to defend yourself. With that said, Uber's intentions and their real-world implementation are two different stories. Lie detectors aren't surefire guarantees that someone is honest, for example, and alerts only work if you can use them in time. It may be a while before you know for sure that Uber's cars are significantly safer.

[Image credit: Dima Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images]

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