Founded in 2009, Uber transformed the transportation industry. Since then, the company has become synonymous with taxi, food delivery service, chauffer, and even carpool. And now Uber is rolling out a system to identify drunken passengers.
While taking an Uber home after a night out is absolutely the safest option, many drivers hate driving drunken customers. People are loud, obnoxious – perhaps even falling over – and this behavior is distracting to drivers. Using artificial intelligence, the taxi app is patenting technology to detect so-called “uncharacteristic user activity”. Depending on one’s user activity rating, drivers can decide whether to pick up a rider or not.
Identifiers such as accuracy of phone typing, walking speed, and the angle one is holding his/her phone will detect drunk user activity. These are all fairly precise and factual indicators of how drunk a potential rider may be. While drivers use their own discretion to pick up a drunken rider, there are critiques of the system. The system might identify vulnerable customers who could be taken advantage of in different manners. Not so safe anymore, is it?
The company does not seem troubled by the criticisms. Of the new AI technology, the company had the following to say:
“We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers.
We file patent applications on many ideas, but not all of them actually become products or features.”
This assurance is helpful in that the new system may never be implemented. Can you imagine if people were not able to get an Uber ride because they were deemed too drunk to be taken home? Employing the new system would defeat Uber’s sole purpose as a taxi company…a company one would hope could take people home after drinking too much. Maybe think again Uber.