Uber might be implementing a new feature which could detect intoxicated users. (Image via Fortune)

Uber Has Filed a Patent for a Feature to Identify Intoxication

After sexual harassment claims, the company is trying to find ways to prevent further incidents and ensure the safety of its riders.
June 13, 2018
4 mins read

Uber is working on a new safety feature which will allow the app to identify behavior associated with intoxication. The company’s goal, according to CNN, is to more effectively adapt options for rides offered to individuals who use the service.

With a reported 15 million trips per day around the world, Uber has become a popular option for people who consume alcohol. In 2014, Benson Strategy Group conducted a survey about Uber usage. The group’s findings indicated 78 percent of people said their friends were less likely to drink and drive due to having access to Uber.

In the same CNN piece, Matt McFarland wrote “The patent application describes a system that learns how you typically use the Uber app, so that it can identify unusual behavior.

The system relies on an algorithm to weigh a variety of factors, including typos, how precisely a user clicks on links and buttons, walking speed, and how long it takes to request a ride. The time of day, and where a ride is requested may also be considered.”

Another factor which will be accounted for is the angle at which a user holds their device. The app will examine the rider’s usage history, such as the number of typos made when normally using the Uber app.

Riders who normally make a lot of mistakes when typing have no need to worry; however, individuals who make an abnormal amount of typing mistakes compared to their usage history might be assumed by the app to be intoxicated.

In the event the app detects intoxication, the services offered by Uber could alter to better fit the customer. The driver will be warned before accepting a ride, or only drivers with experience in dealing with intoxicated people will receive the ride notification.

Users who are intoxicated might not have the option of shared rides. The app could also alter the pick-up or drop-off location to somewhere in which the rider can easily navigate. According to Futurism, the patent suggests users might be denied a ride if the app detects intoxication.

Despite the patent being filed, the feature is not guaranteed to be implemented, as explained by a representative of the company.

The representative said “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.”

Uber recently implemented another safety feature which allows users to contact 911 within the app. In addition, riders are able to add trusted contacts to the app and share real-time ride details with friends and loved ones.

During an investigation occurring over the last four years, CNN learned at least 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing riders. In the majority of reported accusations, the rider was under the influence.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is working on ways to prevent incidents from occurring between riders and drivers. Khosrowshahi said “We were not perfect, and anytime you’re growing as fast as you’re growing…sometimes you get things wrong. Our intent now is to get things right.”

Alexis Rogers, Temple University

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Alexis Rogers

Temple University
Journalism and Spanish

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