Uber wants to patent technology to detect drunk riders

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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.

While the patent doesn't go into details about what exactly abnormal behavior is, the language of the report implies drunkenness and fatigue. A drunk user can also jumble with words while typing and the typing speed may not be as fast as that of any sober user.

Uber thinks it might be helpful to know whether a passenger is intoxicated. This can then be matched with the user's location and the time - near a nightclub and in the early hours, for example.

The patent application explains once an "abnormal" passenger is identified several options can take place.

It could help drivers who do not want to pick up inebriated riders.

Uber says this technology will make rides safer and that it will avoid "safety incidents and personal conflict incidents, [that] can occasionally occur when users and/or providers behave uncharacteristically".

Uber has a poor reputation for taking driver assault seriously in the past.

CNN reported that more than 100 Uber drivers in the U.S. had been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the past four years, with 31 drivers convicted of crimes including false imprisonment and rape.

In many of these instances, the passengers were intoxicated.

In a statement, Uber said: "We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers".

It is not known when the technology will be introduced but experts have warned it could mean vulnerable passengers are unable to get a cab home safely or find themselves charged more.