Uber is testing a new kind of carpooling service in China, named UberCommute. The mobile taxi service will let the driver choose the commute, and pick up drivers on the way.
It is the most open to interpretation service Uber has launched, essentially allowing drivers that aren’t full time taxi drivers to pick up riders on their route to work, or days off.
This should bring a few more drivers into the Uber system, who may become full time drivers if they find the money worth it. The new service should also add more legal high ground for Uber, since the part time drivers will not want the full time advantages.
For the rider, nothing should change. The driver will be dispatched, pick you up, and drop you off. As long as you’re on the route, Uber should match you up with a driver capable of getting you to your destination.
Uber essentially wants all drivers to be capable of picking someone up in their spare time. The legality of having someone else in the car, having them pay you for the service without a license is still a grey area; probably why it is being trialled in China.
Didi Kuaidi, the major competitor to Uber in China, has a variation of carpooling services. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this type of car sharing available already in China from another provider, but Uber’s massive investment in the region should make more drivers aware of the ability to become a part time taxi driver.
UberCommute could be integrated into self-driving cars in the future. Instead of having those cars roam around, Uber will set designated routes around the city, picking up all riders in the area. This should remove the need to dispatch a car from a facility every time someone orders a cab.