Uber to launch AI tool to detect drunk passengers

No strangers to innovation, ride hailing app, Uber, have made another exciting step forward with their latest technological advancement. Uber have filed a request to patent a piece of artificial intelligence technology capable of detecting whether or not a passenger is drunk. With many stories reaching the press about Uber drivers taking advantage of drunk passengers, the brand is seemingly doing all they can to operate and promote themselves as a safe, transport option.

The new feature to its hugely successful app will measure a wealth of user actions, enabling them to provide their drivers with information on the potential state of a customer. As well as noting typos in communication, the patent will also record details such as how the potential customer is holding their phone, how fast they are walking and can even recognise if a customer is swaying.

Divided opinion

Uber claim the new technology could “predict user state using machine learning” whilst also being able to recognise “uncharacteristic user states”. Uber hope the new patent will help “take an action to reduce undesired consequences” involving intoxicated passengers.

Despite the apparent benefits, many sceptics believe the new patent will encourage drivers to refuse fares, potentially leaving the most vulnerable unable to use the service.
Critics have also suggested the new technology could see the most vulnerable customers become targeted. Uber have been subjected to countless sexual assault allegations over the past few years and many believe that giving their drivers the ability to pick out drunk, vulnerable passengers could be dangerous.

With the patent filed back in 2016, an Uber spokesperson made it clear that the technology is not guaranteed to reach its app. Explaining that the AI is still a “work in progress” and just one of many improvements Uber are striving to make a reality.