In a city that never sleeps, people are bound to be on the move 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Traditional modes of transportation such as buses, subways, and taxis have long been a part of New York’s identity. However, in recent years, the emergence of ridesharing services has revolutionized the way we move in cities. A growing number of drivers are now chauffeuring a growing number of people quickly and affordably. The destinations are just as diverse as the passengers are themselves. Bosch’s RideCare companion makes it safer and more comfortable to ride with strangers. During a night shift in New York, rideshare driver Hidalgo Luna shows us why the Bosch technology is the perfect companion for him.
On the road in New York City
The hectic movement of New York City fills the air and the glow from Times Square’s LED walls light the street at sunset. Hidalgo Luna safely weaves his vehicle past yellow taxis, honking cars, and impatient pedestrians to the curbside to drop off a young couple in the heart of Manhattan. Hidalgo is a rideshare driver and knows the Big Apple and its inhabitants like few others.
Eighties music plays softly from the car’s radio while his two guests step out and disappear in the throng of people. His ridesharing app has already alerted him of his next ride.
From DJ to rideshare driver
The New York-born father of four worked as a DJ for decades and held karaoke parties at bars and pubs. However, when the pandemic brought nightlife to an abrupt halt three years ago, Hidalgo needed to adapt to the new situation quickly. He registered as a rideshare driver so that he could keep providing for his family.
“I love New York nightlife in all its facets. Whether I’m in the DJ booth or driving people through the city, I meet people from all around the world,” Hidalgo says. Whether at a bar or in his car, he always wants his guests to feel comfortable.
The light and dark sides of ridesharing
Hidalgo concentrates as he steers his car across the East River, which separates Manhattan from Brooklyn and Queens. The other riders this evening include a man being taken to sign off on a business deal at a restaurant, a young family wanting to go back to their hotel, and a group of friends invited to a birthday party in Williamsburg.
“Not all rides go as peacefully and pleasantly as the ones today, unfortunately,” Hidalgo says, “It’s rare, but I often hear of conflicts between drivers and passengers. In these cases, it’s one person’s word against another’s. Some passengers don’t listen to the driver’s instructions. They try to get in the car with more people than allowed or behave inappropriately.” Conversely, Hidalgo has also driven passengers who talked about negative ridesharing experiences due to their driver.
When Hidalgo became a rideshare driver, his wife Adnerys was very concerned about the potential dangers that Hidalgo could end up facing. Unlike the karaoke events at bars and clubs, a car is a more private and enclosed space. Both driver and rider have to hope that the other has no bad intentions.
The perfect companion
Bosch’s RideCare companion, designed specifically for ridesharing, now accompanies Hidalgo on each of his rides. His new, connected camera is equipped with multiple sensors. An interior camera and exterior camera record the vehicle’s cabin and surroundings even when it is dark.
RideCare companion acts as an important safety enhancement for drivers and passengers in critical situations. A wireless emergency call button connects Hidalgo to trained Bosch safety agents who work round the clock and can access the cameras remotely. They can communicate directly with the driver and passengers, assess the situation, and ask for help if it is needed.
Thanks to RideCare companion, Hidalgo can concentrate fully on driving worrying less about possible distractions that are out of his control.
It feels like I have a companion in the car with me, someone who is there, if needed. If I feel unwell or if someone suddenly becomes sick, I can get support at the press of a button.
RideCare companion is also a reliable partner when people make false accusations. “Sadly, there are passengers who make false accusations about their driver so that they don’t have to pay the fare,” Hidalgo explains. “This means we not only lose our earnings for that ride, but also run the risk of being blocked by the ridesharing company — and that means earning no money at all.”
“I have RideCare companion with me to protect myself against unfair accusations so that I can keep providing for my family,” Hidalgo says, tapping the small device on his windshield. “We drivers can fight back against false accusations using the recordings.”
Clear vision thanks to artificial intelligence
The water of the East River is reflecting the lights of the city and a chilly wind is blowing across New York City. Hidalgo commences his final trip for today. Kim has lived in Brooklyn for three years and fallen in love with the city. After an evening with friends in Greenpoint, she is looking forward to being back in her comfortable home. At night in particular, she prefers to get a rideshare rather than wait for public transportation.
A blue smile lights up on the RideCare companion to signal to Hidalgo that a new ride is starting and being recorded. When Kim checks her makeup in the sun visor mirror and blocks the camera’s lens, a message appears in Hidalgo’s app. It says that its camera is blocked.
Using artificial intelligence, RideCare companion continuously analyzes the field of vision. If the field of vision happens to be blocked, the companion will alert the driver. “It’s very helpful that the camera has a mind of its own,” explains Hidalgo. “If there’s a problem with the device, RideCare companion lets me know.”
Gold above New York
The morning light is shrouding the sky above, casting a golden veil around Hidalgo when he drops off his final passenger. He finishes his shift at a car park with a view of the world-famous skyline.
With conventional dashcams, the work did not stop when the final passenger of the shift. The recordings needed to be manually sorted and backed up if a driver did not want to spend a long time looking for a particular trip. With RideCare companion on board, this task can be skipped. RideCare companion automatically tags the individual rides and the recordings of them along with route and timestamp before saving them to the cloud. Using the app, Hidalgo can access and play back the recordings quickly and trouble free.
The next day, though, his car remains parked. Instead, Hidalgo is again immersed in New York City’s nightlife and getting to know people from the DJ booth, not from behind the steering wheel.