AI Has the Potential To Make Uber Safer for Riders and Drivers

Uber has become an easy, convenient and affordable method for people around the world to get where they need to go at all hours of the day and night. Moreover, it can be said that the service has literally been a life-saver for people out partying or indulging. For those people who are in no state to drive home or even to find their own way home by hailing a taxi, Uber provides a relatively safe alternative. Yet, dealing with drunk passengers does have its drawbacks.

Most drivers prefer not to have to deal with rowdy, argumentative, or passed out individuals that had too much to drink. The potential that these passengers could get sick during the ride is often a major drawback, even deterring some people from driving for Uber at certain hours, in certain locations, or at all.

Uber, which has rapidly been growing and expanding globally thanks to its convenience, simplicity and incentifying Uber promos and coupons, has been trying to come up with solutions for dealing with inebriated clientele. Uber reportedly applied for a patent on software that could detect drunk passengers before they get in a vehicle.

The patent application has revealed that Uber is attempting to use artificial intelligence to help identify passengers sobriety (or lack thereof). Based on algorithms and complex calculations measuring and comparing many factors, the system can make educated assumptions about whether a potential rider is sober, tipsy, or completely drunk.

How can this information help Uber drivers and Uber riders? Firstly, drivers who don’t want to or feel they are incapable of handling a drunk passenger can opt out. This takes the surprise, annoyance and hassle of having a wasted passenger pass out, or even become sick, in a driver’s car. In addition, Uber may use the information to match the inebriated passenger with a driver equipped to handle him or her, or may relegate the passenger to certain types of cars or rides, or may deny the passenger service entirely.

Knowing whether a passenger is drunk also has the potential to enhance safety for riders. There have been instances of sexual assault and abuse by drivers towards passengers, largely occurring when the passenger was under the influence. These scenarios could be potentially avoided using information gleaned from the app.

For now, however, only the future will tell if Uber will become safer and more pleasant as a result of AI.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.