New Uber Technology Would Detect Drunk Customers


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.

Uber has submitted a patent to add a feature to its app that will help identify drunken riders so drivers could better assist them.

The technology will detect this based on a number of factors like the typing speed of the users, how precisely they click buttons, accuracy while entering details, walking speed, the angle at which the device is held or dropped and even the time and day of the booking. During the past four years, 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault and in numerous cases, police reports note the passengers were drunk.

Many of these cases involved intoxicated passengers.

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

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 technology is raising concerns over consumer privacy rights.

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. 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.

The technology in the patent application was developed by current and former members of Uber's Trust & Safety team.

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.

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