an uber car on the streets

Uber is working on an AI that would help identify drunk passengers. Source: ShutterStock

Here’s how Uber is using AI to protect drivers and drunk passengers

THERE have been many reports of ride-hailing drivers sexually assaulting or abusing riders. In many of these instances, the passengers were intoxicated.

This puts pressure on the companies for a solution to make ride-hailing safer for riders. To that end, Uber has filed for a patent that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify drunk passengers.

According to the patent application, the AI will learn a rider’s usage patterns to determine unusual behaviors.

The system will take into account factors like typos, precision while clicking on links and buttons, walking speed, and the amount of time taken to request a ride. The AI will also consider other factors like time of day and location.

Based on the data, the system can alert drivers of their passenger’s state. For riders, they may only be matched with drivers with relevant experience or training. The patent also said that riders that are identified as drunk may not have the option of sharing rides.

This not only help ensure the safety of riders, it could also help protect drivers.

According to a CNN investigation, there have been at least 103 Uber drivers accused of sexually assaulting riders in the past four years. On the flip side, there have also been reports of passengers assaulting drivers.

Many of these cases involved passengers who were drinking before getting into an Uber.

The AI patent could be part of Uber’s initiative in making ride-hailing safer. Just last month, Uber dropped the forced arbitration clause for riders, drivers, and employees who want to file a legal complaint against the company on grounds of sexual assault.

Removing the arbitration agreement means anyone suing Uber due to an assault can pursue the case individually in open court and request trial by jury.

At that time, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer Tony West told Recode, “We believe they represent big, bold steps forward that will ultimately help us all prevent sexual assault more effectively.”

Currently, it is unknown if any other ride-hailing operators are working on a similar technology.

It remains to be seen how effective Uber’s AI would be. If successful, this is a step towards making ride-hailing a safer form of transport, and we could see other ride-hailers follow suit.