Uber launches UberRush, an on-demand courier service

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Mobile car service startup Uber is branching out, on Tuesday launching a new delivery service for small packages and other items.

Called UberRush, the on-demand courier service will kick off in Manhattan and allow users to request immediate pick-up of items, with fast delivery promised via bicycle or on foot.

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Items out for delivery can be tracked by both the sender and the recipient via the Uber app, with service rates set on a zone basis (see map on right). The five zones run from around Central Park (below 110th Street to begin with) down to Lower Manhattan, with a flat $15 fee charged for same-zone delivery. An extra $5 is added for every zone crossed as the package is taken to its delivery address. Essentially this means a top rate of $35, though the bill is likely to run higher if multiple deliveries are made in one trip.

The Uber team describes UberRush as “an experiment” though promises the new service is focusing on “Uber level quality.” If it proves successful, it’ll be rolled out on a wider scale, with the company noting that within Manhattan at least, it hopes to expand coverage “quickly.”

Couriers working for the new service can expect to be paid $20 to $30 an hour, according to a Craigslist job listing spotted earlier by VentureBeat. They’ll also receive a free iPhone 4S loaded with the Uber app so they can receive notifications for nearby pick-ups.

Uber, best known for its ride-on-demand service, has hit the headlines with other initiatives since it launched in 2010, though many of these have been little more than publicity stunts. UberRush, in contrast, appears to be a concerted effort by the company to explore new services and widen its horizons.

[Main image: Mervas / Shutterstock]

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