Uber is testing a new feature that gives some of its drivers more of a say where they pick up and drop off passengers, according to Quartz. The ride-hail company is piloting something it calls a “drop-off area filter,” which would allow drivers to select certain geographic locations where they would prefer to stay. Uber would then filter out any trip requests that don’t terminate within that chosen area.
Using the feature, drivers don’t have to choose individual neighborhoods but can select whole swaths of a city. “We will only send you trips that have a drop-off location within the areas you have selected,” reads a message shared by drivers. “The more areas you select, the more trips you’ll likely get. And you can update your preference at any time.”
Uber confirmed to Quartz (and subsequently to The Verge) that it is only conducting a “small” test of the new feature, but it wouldn’t specify where it is being piloted. According to Quartz, drivers on Reddit reported spotting the feature in Boston and Toronto.
To be sure, Uber frequently tests out new features and products that don’t amount to anything. Which is to say, this particular feature may never go anywhere and simply die on the vine. Of course, Uber likes to control how its new features are rolled out, and could be seeking to misdirect as a way to compensate for letting this one slip through the cracks. Also, this new feature could result in fewer drivers in certain areas, which would lead to longer wait times. There are a number of ways this could backfire, hence Uber’s hesitation.
That said, the drop-off area filter does align with other features that Uber has previously adopted on a wide-scale. In 2015, Uber introduced a new "destinations" feature, in which drivers heading in a specific direction could input their destination into the app, and Uber's algorithm will send them ride requests that appear along the way. Requests that would force them to deviate from their route would be filtered out.
“Driver destinations” was first piloted in San Francisco, but has since rolled out to the entire US. However, drivers are limited to using it twice a day (presumably on their commutes to and from work).