Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Uber turns to A.I. to identify drunk riders

Uber turns to A.I. to identify drunk riders

Uber is taking artificial intelligence to the next level by applying for a patent that could potentially detect if a passenger is drunk and notify a driver before they step into their automobile.

Uber has partnered with organizations including Mothers Against Drunk Driving to encourage more people to call the service than to get behind the wheel after drinking too much. With the technology, Uber could better tailor its ride options for customers.

It describes an algorithm that will weigh a variety of factors, like typos, how precisely a use clicks, walking speed and the time of day.

Drivers may receive a notification that the person requesting the ride could be intoxicated, which also could result in more experienced drivers being routed to help riders who could present a problem for someone less experienced.

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CNN uncovered the patent, called "Predicting user state using machine learning". Drivers may be warned of their passenger's state, and riders in an unusual/drunken state may only be matched with drivers with relevant experience or training, the patent application says.

Given drunk people are not known to be the most lucid, sensible or even polite people, certainly here in the United Kingdom, the system could alert Uber drivers to the fact their upcoming customer is flying a few sheets to the wind.

Other things can go wrong too. According to a recent CNN investigation, at least 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in just the past four years.

The patent application's authors are current or former members of Uber's Trust & Safety team, which works to make the company's products safer.

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