Uber’s big focus on India: Exploring offline bookings, Autohawk pilot project and more

Uber is focussed on offering a friction less experience for riders as well as drivers. And the company is working on routing, payment options and types of products to make that possible. Uber is also exploring ways to let riders book cabs offline.

Written by Hansa Verma | New Delhi | Updated: May 31, 2017 1:23 pm
Uber, Uber India, Uber riders app, Uber app, Apurva Dalal In an interaction with the Indianexpress.com, Apurva Dalal, Head of Engineering, Uber India talked about how India is a unique market in terms of traffic, connectivity and network penetration.

Uber is focused on offering a friction-less experience for riders as well as drivers in India. The company is working on three major areas, namely routing, payment options and types of products to make that possible.  In an interaction with the Indianexpress.com, Apurva Dalal, Head of Engineering, Uber India talked about how this is a unique market for them in terms of traffic, connectivity and network penetration.

“I can tell you what to expect in terms of areas we’re working on. I think routing, the whole calculation of time on maps has to be improved. Similarly, in payments, you’ll see more options. In terms of riders app, we’re looking at what other products may work for riders, besides the ones we already have,” said Dalal. The company might be exploring UPI (Unified Payment Interface) as a payment options as well, but nothing is finalised as of now.

Uber is also trying to tackle the challenge of the Indian market, where low-end Android devices tend to dominate, and this means the app experience might not always be the best. Additionally network connectivity is an issue. The company is also exploring ways to let riders book cabs when offline as well.

“Another angle is if we can figure out a way for riders to book outside the app, which can be many things such as SMS, call, WhatsApp, etc,” he pointed out.

Uber is also looking at making the rider’s on-trip experience better.  “We are trying to figure what what we can do to improve the trip experience. For example, before the trip, the best thing we can do is guess where you’re going. As soon as you pick a location, the other best thing we can do is the driver gets to you in the fastest possible manner,” says Uber’s head of engineering for India.

But the service intends to go beyond the basics. “The area we need to look at more is during the trip. So if I had entertainment-on-the-go, does that really makes a big difference to the rider? Or what if we give Wi-Fi on the go? We know a lot about places around the world. Can we use that knowledge to help you look for places on the way,” explains Dalal.

Uber also has an Autohawk pilot project in place that makes use of GPS to transmit information such as engine data, geo-location of the vehicle, coolant temperature in the vehicle, and even fuel levels. Uber started testing the project in India, and the same is being done in Singapore as well.

Dalal explains how the project will help Uber, and why it is really important for a country like ours. “We’re starting with India first, because we know cars run for long hours, safety is a key aspect here, and the fact that people don’t go for maintenance on time,” he explains. “If we can know so much about the vehicle, we can make sure that the trips are far smoother. We can make sure vehicles are better maintained. I think it helps everyone.”

On UberEATS, Dalal said the company is collecting data from the service Mumbai, and will launch it in other big cities like Delhi soon.

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