Uber delivering packages in four cities in India

After grocery delivery and transportation of non-COVID-19 patients, ride-hailing platform Uber is now piloting delivery of packages between consumers in four cities, including Gurugram and Kolkata.

The service — Uber Connect — will allow residents of Guwahati, Jaipur, Gurugram and Kolkata to send and receive packages while maintaining social distancing, Uber said in blogpost on Tuesday.

All packages should be transportable on a two-wheeler vehicle, be under 5 kilograms in weight, securely sealed and not include prohibited items such as alcohol, recreational drugs, firearms, currency or dangerous and illegal items.

"Similar to on-demand trips, you will be able to continue monitoring the trip's progress prior to pickup, en route, and at the drop-off. You can also share the delivery status with the recipient of the package," the blogpost said.

The Uber Connect option will appear in the Uber app as a new option in the vehicle selection scroller. Users will be prompted to agree to package delivery terms and conditions, and after confirming that the item complies with those terms, users can request delivery.

Similar to the cab hailing experience, the user will receive a notification once the driver is on the way to pick up the package.

Transportation services like cabs were suspended after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25. After 40 days of lockdown, certain relaxations have been provided in green and orange zones and cab services have resumed in certain parts of the country.

Uber, and its rival Ola, have introduced new services to help people visit hospitals for non-COVID-19 cases. Uber has also partnered Flipkart, Medlife, BigBasket and Spencer's Retail to make deliveries on behalf of these partners. Such initiatives have provided earnings opportunity for driver partners working with these ride-hailing platforms at a time when regular cab services were suspended.

Interestingly, in January this year, Uber had sold the India unit of its food delivery unit - Uber Eats - to Zomato.

Zomato acquired the Indian business of Uber Eats in an all-stock deal that gave Uber 9.99 per cent stake in the Indian food delivery and restaurant discovery platform.

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