Uber files for patent to detect drunk passengers using AI

Marco Green
June 14, 2018

Uber wants to be able to tell you when you've had too many drinks.

While Uber is attempting to rehabilitate its public image, users may be wary of an algorithm that can tell how many cocktails they've downed on a night out. The information could then be used to determine what type, if any service to provide.

Drunk passengers are a headache for Uber drivers.

Many of these cases involved intoxicated passengers.

The ride-hailing service has an application pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office that would tap artificial intelligence to separate sober passengers from drunk ones.

The technology will detect this based on a number of factors like the typing speed of the users, how precisely they click buttons, accuracy while entering details, walking speed, the angle at which the device is held or dropped and even the time and day of the booking.

Based on how the system interprets that behavior, it may adjust how it arranges a match with a driver, the application said.

It's still unclear if the information would then be passed on to drivers.

"It would be cool if drivers got extra money for picking up drunk passengers".

"For example, when the likelihood is comparatively very high, the user may not be matched with any provider, or limited to providers with experience or training with users having an unusual state", according to the patent. And when the likelihood is comparatively low, the system may match riders "normally".

The technology is raising concerns over consumer privacy rights. And they worry that the technology could deter riders who are actually drunk from using the service - and risk getting behind the wheel. The idea is still in its early stages, and the company has no immediate plans to start using the technology as described in the application.

An Uber spokesperson said that the ride-sharing company is introducing new safety protocols including better driver background checks.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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