Uber turns to AI to identify drunk riders - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Uber turns to AI to identify drunk riders

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Uber shared new safety measures for riders with plans to re-run background checks on drivers each year. (FOX5) Uber shared new safety measures for riders with plans to re-run background checks on drivers each year. (FOX5)
(CNN/FOX5) -

Uber wants to know when riders had a few too many drinks and it's turning to artificial intelligence for answers.

The ridesharing giant has published a patent application to identify drunk passengers.

It described an algorithm that will weigh a variety of factors like typos, how precisely a user clicks, walking speed and the time of day.

For example -- a rider clumsily typing, “at at one a-m” on a Saturday would likely be considered not sober.

Uber plans to use that technology to better tailor its rides, either by warning drivers or matching them with drivers with relevant experience or training.

Uber drivers in Las Vegas said they never know what kind of rider they are going to get, especially when those riders have been drinking.

"It ranges from those who are happy drunk to passed out drunk to even belligerent. A lot of us have had experiences where passengers get sick in the car,"  Jason Danels with the United Rideshare Driver Association said.

Danels said he thinks this is a step in the right direction toward creating a safer and easier experience for everyone. 

"It is one way that it might put us on notice if a rider's impaired, we are prepared to handle it accordingly," Danels said.

On Monday, Uber sent an email to its app users emphasizing its commitment to improving driver screening and passenger safety. The company also outlined a list of safety features it began rolling out earlier this year.

The features include the ability to share trip details with "trusted contacts," a button to call 911 from within the app, as well as a pledge to re-run background checks on drivers each year.

CNN contributed to this report.

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