Ride-hailing firm Ola announced the roll-out of its artificial intelligence-enabled safety feature, ‘Guardian’ in 17 markets across India and Australia. After running a successful pilot across multiple cities in India and international markets, Bengaluru-based Ola said the ‘Guardian’ feature is going live in 16 Indian cities as well as Perth in Australia. The SoftBank-backed company aims to take Guardian to more cities in the coming quarter.
The ‘Guardian’ feature, developed by Ola as a world-first, uses real-time data from rides to automatically detect irregular trip activity, including prolonged stops and unexpected route deviations. These alerts are flagged off in real-time to Ola’s dedicated 24x7 Safety Response Team, who immediately reach out to customers and drivers to confirm if they’re safe and offer on-the-call assistance until ride completion. Customers can also alert police authorities and their loved ones in parallel, through the emergency button on the app. Ola Guardian is built on AI and machine learning capabilities on the Ola platform, which enables it to continuously learn and evolve from millions of data points every single day, to improve risk signalling and instant resolution.
“We are focused on developing innovations that place customer safety at the heart of platform experience. ‘Guardian’ brings together the precision of artificial intelligence with the assurance of human intervention, enabling a uniform and safe mobility experience across the markets we operate in,” said Arun Srinivas, chief sales and marketing officer, Ola. The safety initiatives such as emergency button, facial recognition system for driver authentication, and one-time-password (OTP) system, are innovations that have all been built in India. “We now lead the global benchmarks for the mobility industry. We are committed to further innovating on key areas like safety, consumer and partner experience in our mission to build mobility for a billion people,” said Srinivas.
Last month, Ola’s US-based rival Uber lost its licence to operate in London. Transport for London (TfL), the UK Capital’s transport regulator had said that Uber will not be given a new licence in London after repeated safety failures. A key issue identified was that a change to Uber's systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips - putting passenger safety and security at risk.
Ola said it conducts mandatory verification through stringent criminal records checks. It also provides mandatory online training for drivers that includes modules like customer service and etiquette, platform usage, partner support and defensive driving. To prevent driver impersonation Ola has put in place a facial recognition system in place, which prompts on-duty drivers to upload a selfie and authenticate themselves multiple times in between rides. This feature is live across India and is also being piloted in various international markets.