Uber has come under fire for its atrocious work culture (something it's working on fixing) and the negative impact it has had on the value of taxi medallions, something advocates are concerned may have led to a string of taxi cab driver suicides. However, a recent patent application by the company could show whether a rider is drunk, before they even get in the car.
The patent, filed to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and first spotted by CNN, attempts to show whether a person is acting "abnormal" (read: intoxicated) based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
It can identify "a normal or abnormal state of the respective user of the respective service," the patent reads, based off training a computer model to look at certain data sets, such as the angle the device is held at, the time the car is ordered, or walking speed, according to the patent, entitled "predicting user state using machine learning."
The behavior of the person ordering the ride will be compared to their "normal" behavior over a long period of time.
It's unclear if drivers will be given this information assuming the patent is granted, but it stands to reason they will, in order to better serve the riders and understand who their passengers are.
The patent states that if a potential rider is acting uncharacteriscally, they could be rerouted to certain drivers who are experienced with handling troubled passengers, or not at all.
"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," the patent states. "Similarly, when the likelihood is comparatively low (but not non-zero), the system may match the provider normally and provide a notification to the matched provider of the possible state."
If a person is innebriated or acting uncharacteriscally, the patent adds that the ride could be modified:
"Some examples of trip variations include matching the user with only certain providers, alerting a provider about the user's possible unusual state, and modifying pickup or dropoff locations to areas that are well lit and easy to access," the patent reads. "Different trip parameters may be altered in different situations, such as depending on the predicted likelihood that a user is acting uncharacteristically."
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