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Flu jabs to food: Uber hints at expanding delivery

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Uber will continue to grow beyond just offering a taxi service to a point where it can deliver food in one minute as it increasingly sees itself a "logistics platform", its head of global operations told CNBC.

In a wide-ranging interview, Ryan Graves, who was also the chief executive of the San Francisco-based firm for a short time in 2010 and also the startup's first employee, said experiments in food delivery and even delivering flu jabs will continue, with other areas to follow.

"As we scale, you know, the delivery times will go from five to three to one minute. And all of a sudden, you will come to Uber for more things. You'll be able to get food, you'll be able to get product, you'll be able to get around town. And that's really what I'm focused on," Graves told CNBC.

The ride-sharing app – which is valued at over $50 billion – also offers a service called UberEATS in 12 cities in which it says it delivers meals from local restaurants in 10 minutes or less. Another service it trialed recently called UberHEALTH saw it deliver $10 wellness packs to people as well as a free flu shot for up to 10 people.

As well as food and healthcare, Uber has also dabbled in e-commerce. Earlier this month, it partnered with the Jacksonville Jaguars football team to allow passengers in Florida request a ride and buy last-minute tickets to watch the squad play. Graves hinted that Uber is viewing itself more as a logistics company which will open the door to it doing more schemes like this.

"We think about ourselves as this logistics platform that can do a lot of different stuff," Graves said.

"And I think there's value in us continuing to stay focused on our core business. I mean, I believe we've barely scratched the surface. Even in mature markets like San Francisco. And so if that's the case these are going to be some interesting opportunities that we can layer on top of this platform."

Driverless cars partnerships?

Uber has touted the potential of driverless car technology. This year, the taxi app opened a research center in the U.S. in Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, to explore new mapping and driving technology.

Graves admitted that the technology won't be on the road "very quickly" but will "change over time" as regulatory changes come through. But when asked if Uber would partner with companies such as Google and Apple in the future to create driverless cars, Graves said he was open to the idea.

"At the end of the day, we're certainly open to the partnership idea. I think that again, there will be changes in how this technology works. I'm not the guy working on them…I'm not going speculate on timeline. But it'll be interesting," Graves told CNBC.

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