Uber may be temporarily out of the self-driving business — but cars and transportation are still firmly in its wheelhouse.
The company is launching a new car rental service on its app, giving Uber's users access to a car for short needs like a daytime field trip or picking up groceries.
Cars will come through car-booking service Getaround, which lets private car owners rent their cars out to others. People will be able to reserve these cars through their Uber app. San Francisco is the first city to get the new feature, which goes live in April, says Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
For those who still like the idea of getting around — without being in the driver's seat — Uber is also launching a service that lets people buy tickets on public transit — think subways and commuter trains — and even use these tickets right from the app. through a deal with Masabi, a technology platform used by transit systems like New York's MTA, riders will pay for, and use, their ticket through the app.
Uber, which was founded in 2009 as a ride-sharing service, had been pushing hard into the self-driving space since 2015. That stopped, at least temporarily, on March 18 when one of Uber's self-driving Volvos was involved in a fatal crash that took the life of Elaine Herzberg, 49, in Tempe, Arizona. Uber immediately shut down its autonomous car testing, including allowing its permit to test self-driving cars in California to lapse.
Uber, however, has clearly not stopped its focus on becoming the app that helps to move people around cities. Perhaps Uber's customers won't be charioted by a self-driving sedan, but the company sees Uber as a complete solution — from home to the office, to drinks out with friends after work, and back.
Not to leave any transportation option untouched, Uber also bought Jump Bikes, an electric bike-sharing company, this week — and yes, you can book a Jump bike through the Uber app if you live in San Francisco and also Washington, D.C. While Uber's self-driving project may be stalled — the company's people-moving plan is clearly not.
"Technology and data alone are not solutions for urban problems—but when done right, and in partnership with others, they have the potential to contribute to a better world for all," says Khosrowshahi. "We're excited to move forward with cities."