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Uber uses AI to determine if your trips are for business or pleasure

It could help you avoid paying out of pocket for work travel.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 13, 2018
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If you rely on ridesharing for work trips, you might have experienced that moment of panic where you accidentally expensed a personal trip to your business account, or paid from your own funds to get to the airport for a company flight. Uber thinks it can set your mind at ease by introducing a profile recommendation system that uses machine learning to help you switch between business and personal accounts in its mobile app. The AI technology can detect travel patterns and predict which account you're most likely to need at any given moment. If you usually visit a regional office but have the day off, the app may ask about switching to a personal account when you request a trip to the spa.

It's not a flawless system -- Uber said the initial suggestion is right 80 percent of the time. You can always override the suggestion, though, and just getting that suggestion may prevent a slip-up.

Uber is also improving the oversight for those trips. Companies can designate trip reviewers to study rides for individual staffers or entire teams. Instead of having to rely on a dedicated travel manager, a business could rely on those who know the most about workers' travel patterns (say, a department leader). Employees can tackle disputes inside the app, rather than waiting for email.

On top of all this, there's now a wider list of expense service integrations that includes the likes of Expensya and Zoho Expense.

The aim for these upgrades is clear: Uber wants to be seen as a trustworthy option for work trips. The less friction there is when hailing Uber for business uses, the more likely companies may be to use it as their go-to travel option. Not that you'll necessarily complain if this helps you avoid the hassles that sometimes come up with taxis and airport shuttles.

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