Ride-hailing service Uber has released a safety feature that lets you follow a passenger's ride.
Trip Tracker, announced Tuesday, enables family or friends to ensure that someone has reached his or her destination. You can receive notifications about someone's trip details and watch the trip's progress in real time on a map via the Uber app. You can see the person's departure, route and arrival.
Trip Tracker is part of Uber's Family Profiles feature, which automatically bills you for the rides of up to 10 people. Family Profiles is available to all Uber riders around the world.
Uber, now in almost 450 cities across more than 70 countries, has grown rapidly since the app's launch in 2010. But the ride-hailing service faces competition in the US from smaller rival Lyft. Outside the US, Uber faces even fiercer competition in some countries. In China, for example, Didi dominates the ride-sharing market and may become an even tougher competitor as it spends Apple's $1 billion investment, announced last week.
Safety has been a key issue for Uber because some drivers have been accused of sexual assault, kidnapping and other crimes. Uber conducts background checks of its drivers, but critics contend that the checks aren't strong enough. Last August, prosecutors in California alleged that the checks failed to reveal 25 drivers with criminal records, including convictions for murder, assault, sex offenses and child abuse.
To better address concerns about safety, Uber formed an advisory board in November that has worked to ensure a safe experience for both drivers and riders. Uber has also introduced new features, such as SafetyNet, which allows passengers to share their estimated time of arrival with up to five contacts.
Trip Tracker expands on that theme by letting you keep tabs on the entire ride of a family member or friend from start to finish.
"The feature is designed to give families an extra feeling of security by letting their loved ones know where they are while riding Uber, the route they are traveling, and exactly when they've arrived safely," an Uber spokeswoman said. "We hope that it does give them peace of mind when their family members are on the go."