You know Uber’s real-time map showing the car locations? It’s fake

When you use the app, those cars you see aren’t really there

Uber’s real-time map showing the location of its registered cars is fake, according to researchers.

Think-tank Data & Society said it investigated the app and found, while the waiting times suggested by the app are accurate, the cars you are seeing on the screen are not.

Uber map cropped

In fact, they’re a “visual effect” used to show how many cars are nearby without revealing their actual location.

The researchers said: “The presence of those virtual cars on the passenger’s screen does not necessarily reflect an accurate number of drivers who are physically present or their precise locations.

“Instead, these phantom cars are part of a ‘visual effect’ that Uber uses to emphasise the proximity of drivers to passengers. Not surprisingly, the visual effect shows cars nearby, even when they might not actually exist.”

Uber said it did this to protect the safety of its drivers before the cars are booked.

Surge pricing

Uber’s surge pricing is not based on real-time data either, the researchers found, instead it’s based on perceived demand.

 

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