US-based ride hailing app Uber is betting big on its development centres in India in Bengaluru and Hyderabad for driving innovation, especially in areas like ride booking and vehicle telematics to enhance rider and driver experience globally. The company, which has about 150 people across its development teams in the two Indian cities, is also looking to scale up its operations here. “India is one of our key development centres and we have a strong commitment here. We have lots of innovation coming out of here (India) for the Indian market but also for the entire world, the most prominent one being cash. Cash is used (to pay for rides) in many countries now,” Uber Global Head of Product Daniel Graf told PTI. Uber has development centres across the US, Amsterdam and Denmark. “In markets like India, we are still in hyper-growth mode, we put in investments to get to a sustainable phase. In India, we are investing in technology, people,” he said.
India is one of the largest markets for Uber, especially after it exited its China business last year. Uber is locked in an intense battle for market leadership in the Indian market with SoftBank-backed Ola. Talking about the India development centres, Graf said the company is exploring several avenues to enhance the rider experience. “There are folks even without a smartphone, they want the opportunity to book a ride, there are several ways to do that so we are exploring that as well. Are we looking at ways to allow people with poor connectivity to book rides? Absolutely,” he said. The company has recently launched a light web-based version of its platform to allow riders who have basic smartphones with limited storage space to book a ride from a tablet or computer. Uber already allows users to book rides for others. Besides, Uber is running a pilot in Pune to allow riders to book a ride from popular zones in the city by calling a phone number and entering a numeric code displayed on a signage to help the company identify their location. Details of the driver and vehicle are sent as a text message on the rider’s phone.
“India has such a diverse customer base. I think we can definitely do better in terms of forecasting like knowing where is traffic, busy and non busy hours today and maybe next week. “We can share that with drivers to enhance their experience and earnings. Then there is vehicle telematics and sensors that can help increase safety of vehicles,” he said.