Uber announced on Wednesday that all drivers must wear face masks effective May 18th. The riding-sharing company will use artificial intelligence through its mobile app to verify compliance. The iOS and Android apps will run a selfie of the driver through a computer vision algorithm to detect whether a mask is worn.
Wearing a mask is just one of the measures Uber will be implementing to fight the spread of COVID-19. Drivers who fail to wear a mask will be unable to pick up customers. Repeat offenders also run the risk of losing Uber access. Although passengers won’t be subject to Uber’s mask detection AI, they will need to confirm that they’ve taken a series of precautions when hailing a ride.
Uber expects these measures to remain in effect until the end of June at minimum, but they are subject to change in accordance with ever evolving pandemic guidelines. The measures also vary from region to region.
Uber isn’t the first organization to harness the power of AI to check whether its users are wearing masks. The metro system in Paris uses security cameras in conjunction with AI tools created by DatakaLab to check for masks on transit riders.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, said in a statement, “During the first phase of the crisis, it’s been heartening to see our communities come together with a collective sense of responsibility.” He went on to remark, “As we move into the new normal, it’s our goal to encourage this same sense of shared responsibility: Uber, riders, drivers, delivery people and restaurants — we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe and healthy.”
Uber also announced that they will be donating $50 million work of hand sanitizer, cleaning suppliers and masks to fight coronavirus.