Uber submits patent to detect drunken app users

Lloyd Doyle
June 14, 2018

What about plugging typos into a pickup or drop off address?

Uber is a safe way for an intoxicated person to get home, but many drivers do not want to deal with mishaps that accompany drunken riders, such as throwing up in the vehicle.

A patent application first spotted by CNN reveals that the ride-sharing may be working on an AI technology that automatically detects the state of the app user, if he or she is high or sober, before getting into the auto.

While the patent can help them identify drunk riders and service them appropriately, it also gives the "bad drivers" a chance to misuse the system.

In a statement, the company told KTVU the idea is in the early stages and that it has no immediate plans to implement the system.


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

"We file patent applications on many ideas, but not all of them actually become products or features".

Based on how the system interprets that behavior, the company may adjust how it arranges a match with a driver, according to the patent application. And while the data could help drivers cater to user needs - maybe with a pre-reclined seat, or a helpfully placed bucket - it could also pave the way for further breaches of trust. "Similarly, when the likelihood is comparatively low (but not non-zero), the system may match the provider normally and provide a notification to the matched provider of the possible state".

John Simpson, director of the Privacy Project at the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, said use of the technology could damage Uber's business model given that many riders rely on the service after drinking and when they know it would be unsafe to drive.

The latest AI technology from Uber will be able to detect whether or not a customer ordering a ride is drunk, although it is unclear what the success rate of this new technology will be.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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