Uber wants to patent technology to detect drunk riders

Uber wants to patent technology to detect drunk riders

Ever struggled to hold a phone steady while ordering an Uber?

This is why Uber now wants to know how drunk or high you are before taking a ride so that it can accordingly take a call. If not, drivers are alerted so they can reject potentially troublesome passengers.

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

While Uber is attempting to rehabilitate its public image, users may be wary of an algorithm that can tell how many cocktails they've downed on a night out.

Based on how the system interprets that behavior, it may adjust how it arranges a match with a driver, the application said.

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"For example, when the likelihood is comparatively very high, the user may not be matched with any provider, or limited to providers with experience or training with users having an unusual state", according to the patent. For example, a rider who has Parkinson's or a hand tremor might be recognized by the app as being drunk.

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. It would also consider the time of day and where a ride is requested.

CNN reported that more than 100 Uber drivers in the United States had been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the past four years, with 31 drivers convicted of crimes including false imprisonment and rape.

Worse still, it could lead to more people trying to drive drunk. Uber has come under fire before for its misuse of customer data, which included Uber employees being able to track the location of ex-partners over a centralised "God View" tool.

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