Uber is testing lights called “Beacons” that affix to car windscreens and change colour to show the rider which car is picking them up.
It can be tricky figuring out just which car is there to pick you up, especially at night. Uber hopes that its new lights will fix that.
Riders can select on their phone which colour to display, and the Beacon light will change to their choice.
Uber says the lights will initially be tested in four cities: Newcastle, Miami, Denver, and Nashville. It says more cities will follow next year, and lights will be given out to drivers at events in December so they’re ready for New Year’s Eve.
The company also said it will begin displaying the colour of your Uber car in the app, so it’s easier to see which car is there for you.
Until now, all you could see on the Uber app as a driver approached was the make and model of the vehicle, its number plate, and a small photo of the driver. But now Uber says that its app will include a photograph of the car, and the on-screen vehicle that drives along the virtual map will also include the car’s colour.
This isn’t the first time Uber has tested out colour-changing lights to go inside its cars. In 2015 it trialled “Spot” lights that could change to different colours. That test was only in Seattle, though.
One of Uber’s biggest competitors in the US, Lyft, recently announced that it will fit cars with colour-changing lights from January. They work in almost exactly the same way as Uber’s “Beacons,” except Lyft calls them “Amps” instead.
Uber used to provide many new drivers with flashing blue Uber logo lights that could be affixed to their car windscreen to show that an Uber car was approaching. Uber told Business Insider that it gave out a “handful” of the lights to drivers in Manchester 2014, for example. But a competitor complained about the lights, and Uber stopped giving them out.
The decision to drop those early blue lights led to the creation of a worldwide black market for light-up Uber logos. Drivers bought and sold both the official lights and home-made versions.