Uber has applied for a patent that would allow drivers to detect drunk riders. According to reports, the app would make use of artificial intelligence to screen upcoming passengers in an attempt to determine any possibility of inebriation.
The app would also feed information to drivers that could determine how accurately they are typing and even the angle they are holding the phone at that moment.
This information would allow drivers to make a decision of whether or not they want to pick up drunken riders.
A similar patent can be traced back to 2016, when Uber Technologies filed an application for a system that would “utilize accelerometer data to configure an autonomous vehicle for the user.”
According to the patent application, it is a system that can analyze accelerometer data and location data from a mobile computing device to determine a set of user attributes for a user of the mobile computing device. In short, this would allow the driver to configure the components of their vehicle according to the driver’s preferences.
At the time, the system referred to making adjustments for riders such as preferred radio stations, temperature and interior lighting. The current patent application takes this a step further by using information to predict the rider’s state based on current behavior while also taking into account past trip information.
This data also benefits users, this information would allow for the app to match the rider with a better suited driver to handle the situation and also providing more accessible pick up and drop off locations when needed.
According to the Washington Post, the application notes that “when the likelihood is comparatively very high” that a rider is acting out of the ordinary, that rider may not be matched with any driver, or may only be matched with drivers “with experience or training with users having an unusual state.” And when the likelihood is comparatively low, the system may match riders “normally.”
Uber’s new patent application is certainly bound to raise some eyebrows. The ride-sharing company landed in hot water a few years ago after an investigation over their privacy and security practices.
Specifically, the so-called “God View” caused uproar because it allowed Uber employees to spy on passengers and drivers by giving them access to their real-time movements and personally identifying information.
The company also comes fresh from even more controversy over reports of alleged sexual assault and abuse from Uber drivers.
A CNN investigation found that 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting passengers, with 31 drivers convicted for abuse.
Critics have already begun to voice their concern over how this type of information could be potentially leave users exposed to predators.
“As I know from my many Uber rape cases, Uber’s low background check standards and refusal to take legal responsibility for drivers make it a perfect place for predators, who get intoxicated women alone in their cars. I’m sure the rapists love this move.” said American civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom over Twitter.
Currently the United States Patent and Trademark Office are evaluating the patent, with no further information whether the application will be approved in the near future.