By Lauren Eads
The technology is intended to give drivers more information on the potential state of their impending fare, it’s also been criticised for its potential to give drivers the justification to refuse a fare, potentially leaving them more vulnerable.
Filed in 2016, the technology patent assesses interactions by the customer through their phone with the Uber app, such as how the passenger is holding their phone and if they are swaying, how fast they are walking user’s walking speed, and whether they are any typos in their communications.
This, it suggests, could “predict user state using machine learning” and recognise “uncharacteristic user states”.
The patent states that the tech would help Uber “take an action to reduce undesired consequences” related to intoxicated passengers.
However critics of the impending technology have said it opens passengers to potential discrimination by drivers, who gain much of their trade from people out drinking and not driving themselves home.
It also raises questions about safety and sexual assault, for both drivers and passengers.
CNN investigation found that 103 Uber drivers in the US alone had been accused of “sexually assaulting or abusing” their passengers in the past four years.
Such technology would feasibly enable a driver to identify passengers that were at their most vulnerable, information that could be used in both a positive and negative manner.
An Uber spokesperson has noted that the AI is still a work in progress, with many patents never actually reaching reality.