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Uber seeks patent for AI tech that determines whether passengers are drunk

CNET logo CNET 2018-06-13 Steven Musil

© Provided by CNET Uber thinks it might be helpful to know whether a passenger is intoxicated.

The ride-hailing service has an application pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office that would tap artificial intelligence to separate sober passengers from drunk ones. According to the application, the technology would be used to spot "uncharacteristic user activity," including passenger location, number of typos entered into the mobile app and even the angle the smartphone is being held.

The technology would help the startup "take an action to reduce undesired consequences" related to intoxicated passengers, according to the application.

The application underscores Silicon Valley's growing interest in AI, a field that has been dominated by big tech companies. Google, Facebook and other companies have been busy developing machines, computers or other types of systems that can exhibit human-like intelligence. The goal is to create machines that can perceive their environment and complete a wide array of everyday tasks previously performed by humans.

Uber said it had no immediate plans to implement the technology described in the proposed patent, pointing out the application was filed in 2016.

"We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers," a spokesperson said. "We file patent applications on many ideas, but not all of them actually become products or features."

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