Have you ever used a ridesharing service, like Uber or Lyft? They can be quite convenient and affordable if you need to get somewhere and don't have your own transportation.
The process is very simple. You just open the company's app, request a ride and like that, your driver arrives within minutes.
Now, Uber is thinking about adding artificial intelligence (AI) to its repertoire. You're not going to believe why!!!
Uber's surprising use of AI
Rideshare companies have really changed the game. Not only for travelers but also for people looking for part-time or even full-time work. At the end of 2017, Uber said it had nearly 2 million drivers globally and 750,000 in the U.S.
One of the biggest complaints that rideshare drivers have is when passengers are inebriated. I've actually heard horror stories about passengers being belligerent and eventually vomiting in the backseat of a driver's car.
Think about that for a moment. Since the driver owns the vehicle, it's their problem to deal with. Yuck!
Which is why many drivers want to avoid drunken passengers altogether. That can be hard to do though, since rides are requested through the app and drivers don't know if the passenger has had too much to drink until it's too late. Until now.
Uber has applied for patented AI technology that would determine the level of intoxication of a potential passenger. If the person requesting the ride is extremely drunk, the driver doesn't have to pick them up.
Apparently, the Uber app would track how fast and accurately a passenger is inputting data, the speed that they're walking, as well as the angle at which they're holding their phone. This info would help determine if the passenger is intoxicated. The patent request claims the AI system would recognize "uncharacteristic user activity."
Is this a good thing?
This feature might be a good thing for Uber drivers, but what about its customers? One of the reasons people use rideshare companies to begin with is when they are out on the town having a few drinks and don't want to drive home.
In fact, Uber has in the past worked with organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving to encourage people to use a rideshare service instead of driving while intoxicated. Hopefully this AI feature doesn't hurt that campaign.
Also, it's possible that the feature might never make it to the Uber app. A spokesperson told ABC News, "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."
Only time will tell.
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