Uber seeks to disrupt another industry with new courier service

Uber's new courier service sets the ride-sharing startup for another industry disruption, with hints at a few more to come.


Uber, the ride-sharing startup wunderkind, has disrupted or disturbed taxi industries worldwide, depending on your point of view.

Now, the San Francisco-based company is poised to do the same to couriers with the launch of UberRUSH.

Unveiled on Monday, the program is launching initially in Manhattan -- and only across a limited portion of the island at that for the time being.

The process works much like it would for requesting a ride for UberX, a black town car or an SUV. Customers can use the same Uber mobile app, input an address, and the courier should be there within a few minutes.

Naturally, there are a few differences. The most obvious difference is the method of transportation being that couriers will either travel via bike or foot.

In light of this, Uber stressed that expected delivery times "may be inaccurate and tracking may pause if a messenger hops on the subway." Expect that to count for double in the early days of this program. Additionally, UberRUSH will only be operating on weekdays during business hours for the near future.

Pricing is a bit simpler than it is for Uber passengers, possibly to avoid some of the backlash Uber has seen lately over its surge-pricing model. Using Manhattan as an example (being that it is the only one), the borough is divided into zones.

If deliveries are picked up and dropped off within the same zone, the charge is a flat $15. Uber tacks on another $5 for each zone crossed after that.

Uber also highlighted (in bold) that "messengers will not purchase items for delivery."

Although maybe we shouldn't nix that idea entirely being that UberRUSH is one of the first schemes emerging from "the Uber Garage," the company's own version of Google X. Uber defined this research unit as a "workshop of sorts where we tinker with new ideas for urban logistics."

Grocery delivery, in particular, is garnering a lot of attention in the tech world these days, propelled especially thanks to a brewing war between Google Shopping Express and AmazonFresh.

Don't be surprised if Uber somehow got into the mix in this industry too, either on its own or by partnering with a smaller company with growing momentum, such as Instacart or FreshDirect.

Image via Uber