Uber turns its drivers into couriers to assist during the pandemic

Uber turns its drivers into couriers to assist during the pandemic Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (@gadgetry@techhub.social)

Uber has launched two new services which turn the company’s drivers into couriers to help ensure people get what they need during the pandemic.

The first of the services, Uber Direct, is essentially an expansion of Uber Eats and opens up the ability for drivers to deliver items that aren’t from restaurants including prescriptions, pet food, and more.

With Amazon now prioritising items considered more essential, Uber has the ability to help ensure people can get what they need. For example, items perhaps not considered “essential” but important could be tools for making household repairs. An increase in the number of people working from home will also mean things like stationary are being ordered more to households rather than offices.

Retail businesses that are unable to open their doors, and struggling due to the reduced footfall, will be given a hand by Uber Direct. The service will help to keep such businesses afloat during a time when many are filing for bankruptcy or having to furlough staff.

The second of Uber’s new services is called Connect and can be thought of as a service to send packages to nearby people such as friends and family. 

Uber says: “Whether it’s a care package, a board game, or an extra roll of much-needed toilet paper, you can send it by requesting ‘Uber Connect’ in the Uber app.”

The new services also help out Uber’s drivers who are suffering from no-one using ride-hailing during lockdowns.

Uber says it’s doing its “best to provide earning opportunities for drivers and delivery people. Our goal is for Uber Connect and Uber Direct to help drivers find essential work today, while unlocking new opportunities in the future.”

Details about Uber Direct are thin other than it’s available from “select retailers”. Uber Connect is available in 25 cities across the US, Mexico, and Australia.

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