According to Uber, this whole ‘Ghost Car’ hullabaloo is nonsense.
if you’re unfamiliar with the story, read this. But here’s quick recap from that:
When you open the Uber app, the first thing you see is a map with (hopefully) a bunch of cars circling your location. Oh good, you think, there are plenty of drivers right next to me. I should be able to get a ride in no time.
In theory, yes, if all those cars you see on the map are actual Uber drivers. But according to a new a report (and plenty of Uber drivers), Uber’s tricking everyone.
Two researchers working on drivers’ interactions with the Uber app discovered a lot of reports of “phantom cabs” – cars that were indicated on the passenger map but didn’t really exist in real life. Plants, if you will.
When pressed for comment on this, an Uber Help employee told a driver that the rider map was merely meant to be a “screensaver”.
There are also plenty of other drivers on Uber forums who have expressed their concerns about “ghost cars” for months.
Anyway, Uber had already said that “the map is as accurate as possible in the close vicinity of your location.” But what it told the Guardian is even juicier:
Our goal is for the number of cars and their location to be as accurate as possible in real time. Latency is one reason this is not always possible. Another reason is that the app only shows the nearest eight cars to avoid cluttering the screen. Also, to protect the safety of drivers, in some volatile situations, the app doesn’t show the specific location of individual cars until the ride is requested.”
Catch that? Your map might be inaccurate, yes, But it’s because Uber is showing you fewer drivers than are really available.
That’s one hell of a switcheroo.