Ever had to drive a drunk friend home? Ever had to clean up the mess that friend left on your backseat? Imagine how taxi drivers, Uber drivers, and Lyft drivers must feel having to go through that experience on a nightly basis. However it seems that Uber could be trying to take the guesswork out of the equation.
A recently published patent has revealed that Uber could be looking into developing an AI system that can tell when a passenger is drunk. This will be done through the Uber app in which based on the description of the patent, will attempt to discern unusual behavior by the way users interact with the app.
This will take into account typos, how precisely links and buttons are pressed, walking speed, and also how long it takes to request a ride. The system will also take into consideration the time of day and the location of the pickup. For example there is a lower chance of the user being intoxicated at 10am in the morning while requesting a ride from their home to the bank, versus Friday night in an area filled with pubs.
So why the need for such a system? One possible use is that if the app detects that the user could be intoxicated, it might prevent them from partaking in shared rides out of consideration to other passengers. It might also pair them with drivers who might have more experience, or maybe it could even allow drivers to reject such passengers.
However there are also problems with such a design, as noted by CNN Money. In the past few years there have been multiple instances of Uber drivers who have been reported to have sexually assault or abuse intoxicated passengers, which means that this patent basically points out passengers who are drunk which could make it easier for criminals to find their victims.
That being said this is only a patent so there’s no telling if Uber actually plans on implementing it.