Uber is set to start using its drivers to delivery online orders for retailers and send goods between customers as it attempts to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uber Direct and Uber Connect initiatives are both being tested by the company this week as it seeks to make use of its army of drivers left without work.
Its first pilot scheme Uber Direct will offer retailers on-demand booking for speedy deliveries to customers isolating at home.
Retailers across the globe have already partnered with Uber for the trial, including New York medicine retailer Cabinet, Australian pet food supplier Pet Barn and even Portugal’s postal servive CTT.
Uber Connect will offer customers the chance to send personal items across town, enabling them to send stockpiled items, goods essential for working at home or items sold through classified ads to local recipients.
This service is currently being tested in 25 cities across the US, Australia and Mexico and will ensure every delivery is contactless.
“Throughout this crisis, we’ve been looking for new ways our platform can help move essential goods for businesses and consumers, while providing new earning opportunities for drivers,” Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said.
“Our primary focus is the immediate: quickly adapting our technology to meet the evolving needs of communities and companies.”
Uber has attempted to launch a goods delivery service in 2015 with Uber Rush, but the service closed in 2018 due to a lack of customers and partners willing to pay a premium for its service.
The company has also said that the service may not continued after the coronavirus crisis has passed.