Uber is making face masks mandatory for all its drivers and artificial intelligence will be ensuring drivers comply with this new requirement. 

According to an Uber press release, before a driver or delivery person can go online, they will be asked to confirm, via a new Go Online Checklist, that they’ve taken certain safety measures and are wearing a mask or face cover. The new technology will verify if the driver is wearing a mask by asking them to take a selfie. After the AI verifies the driver is covering their face, the AI will let the rider know via an in-app message. (Unlike their Real-Time ID Check system, this technology detects the mask as an object in the photo, and does not process biometric information or compare mask selfies to driver photos in our database, notes Uber.)

In the United States, Canada, India and most of Europe and Latin America, drivers who are not wearing a mask or face cover will not be able to go online beginning next Monday, May 18. Uber says they will maintain this policy through the end of June, and then reassess based on local public health needs. They’ve designed this feature to adapt to changing public health guidance and regulations as the pandemic evolves, the company says. 

Uber has also built a similar checklist for riders. Before every trip, riders must confirm that they’ve taken precautions like wearing a face cover and washing or sanitizing their hands. They must also agree to sit in the back seat and open windows for ventilation. They're also reducing the maximum suggested number of passengers for an UberX ride to 3 from 4.

Accountability is key—and it goes both ways, says Uber. The company is encouraging drivers to cancel trips without penalty if they don’t feel safe, including if the rider isn’t wearing a face cover. If a driver shows up without a mask on, the rider can cancel the trip without penalty, too, and report the issue to Uber via the app. Drivers and riders who repeatedly violate mask policies risk losing access to Uber.