Uber Toying with Technology that Detects Customer Intoxication


June 20, 2018

June 12, 2018 (phonearena.com) As reported by phonearena.com, the ridesharing company Uber is looking into technology that could detect the intoxication levels of its customers.*

The technology was first developed by the military to track soldiers’ health via mobile devices. Uber is now pursuing the technology as a potential means of tracking customers’ drunkenness when they hail a driver with the Uber app. Using past habits and behavior as a baseline, the technology would draw conclusions about user intoxication from misspellings, response delays, and phone movement.  

Uber says it has no current plans to implement the technology but says it could be useful in helping customers find better drivers for their current situations and could assist drivers in turning down rides they do not want to take. However, the possibility of the detection technology is drawing criticism in many forms. Anti-drunk-driving organizations believe it might deter people from using the app for a safe ride home, which is one of the app’s primary appeals. Other groups have raised concerns about consumer privacy with the gathering and tracking of private health-related information. 

In addition, the ability to learn in advance about a customer’s intoxication could open the door to predatory behavior and criminal acts. Drivers could potentially target intoxicated customers, which is especially concerning in light of recent reports about the number of charged and convicted criminals who passed ridesharing companies’ background checks. Several passengers have accused ridesharing drivers of sexual assault, rape, and robbery in recent years, and members of the public fear passengers will be even more vulnerable if drivers can tell they’re intoxicated before the ride even begins. 

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