New Uber Technology Would Detect Drunk Customers

Uber drunk app

GETTY DRINKING Uber could use AI to tell how drunk a passenger

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

It is not known when the technology will be introduced but experts have warned it could mean vulnerable passengers are unable to get a cab home safely or find themselves charged more.

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. The app's ability to predict user behaviour could also be used by Uber drivers to detect user's vulnerability.

"We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers", a spokesperson said.

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

In theory, the system could generate an alert to drivers or match suspected drunk passengers only with specially trained drivers.

It could help drivers who do not want to pick up inebriated riders. "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". But the patent application alone raised questions of its potential shortcomings and dangers. To some, the concept may be counterintuitive to why they choose to hail an Uber.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Digital Democracy, said he anxious that riders who depend on the service for their transportation needs could shy away from it knowing that their drinking habits and health data was being collected.

The app used to summon rides could also feed other information to the driver, including a passenger's location, how accurately they are typing and even the angle they are holding their phone at.

Worse still, it could lead to more people trying to drive drunk.

Uber does not have the best track record when it comes to collecting data.

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