Uber’s Patenting Technology That Can Tell When You’re Drunk

Jun 8, 2018

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In the latest of its series of innovative updates, Uber just filed a patent application for artificial intelligence that will predict when passengers are drunk.

The application, submitted Thursday, utilizes an algorithm that evaluates how Uber users typically utilize the rideshare company’s app. Typos, the way the user navigates links or buttons within the app, walking speed and location all factor into the technology’s evaluation. For instance, CNN suggested, someone hailing a ride at 1am on a Saturday in the party district most likely will not be sober.

It’s not yet clear what Uber hopes to accomplish with the technology, although the language of the patent states that the user experience may be influenced by the AI’s findings. Will drivers be given a notification that a potential passenger is impaired, or will the app charge drunk passengers more using the surge pricing model? Other possibilities include drunk passengers being denied the option of sharing rides with other passengers for the sake of saving money.

One of Uber’s biggest use cases is for people who need a safe way to get home after drinking beyond the legal limit. Yet during the years since Uber pioneered ridesharing, a number of issues have arisen within the new industry which have resulted in the need for adaptations in both operations as well as legislation. Uber drivers run a higher risk of having their cars trashed or having a negative experience with inebriated passengers, whether from belligerent or destructive behavior to drunk riders potentially vomiting in the vehicle. And hundreds of sexual harassment and abuse complaints have been filed against Uber drivers around the world, who are far more likely to assault passengers who are in an impaired state.

The rideshare company has continually made headlines in recent months, often over safety concerns. The company unveiled 180 Days of Change in an attempt to reboot its notorious track record for ignoring and covering up accusations from passengers as well as employees, and recently released a “911 panic button” feature within its app for quicker emergency response.

Featured image courtesy of Uber.

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