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.
The ride-hailing service has an application pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office that would tap artificial intelligence to separate sober passengers from drunk ones.
According to the patent, drafted 18 months ago and published last week, the system also monitors how they are holding their phone, their walking speed and how long it takes to request a ride.
The technology would be unique in identifying drunkenness in passengers as opposed to drivers, noted J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
In many of these cases, the passengers were inebriated or drinking before taking the cab.
It's still unclear if the information would then be passed on to drivers. For instance, a user can get matched with a specific driver, the driver can get an alert about the possible state of the passenger and alternate pick up and drop off locations can even be suggested.
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While the patent can help them identify drunk riders and service them appropriately, it also gives the "bad drivers" a chance to misuse the system.
Though it appears if the system shows the likelihood of a customer being drunk is high, the company would use that information on what if any type of driver gets called. The idea is still in its early stages, and the company has no immediate plans to start using the technology as described in the application.
"We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers", Uber said. And when the likelihood is comparatively low, the system may match riders "normally".
"We file patent applications on many ideas, but not all of them actually become products or features".
Uber does not have the best track record when it comes to collecting data.