Food delivery, carpooling and health care: Uber's ambitious plans for 2016

After dominating headlines this past year, Uber is set for an ambitious 2016 with expansions into food delivery, carpooling and even health care.

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The company has already sent serious shockwaves through the taxi industry with UberX, which connects Uber app users with drivers using their own vehicles and charge less than traditional cabs.

But one industry expert say Uber has the potential to impact several industries.

"Uber's goal was, and is, to be the world's most powerful logistics company," said Aron Solomon, the innovation lead for the MaRS's LegalX team, which connects lawyers and technologists. "Anything that can be delivered, will."

Solomon told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday that Uber's greatest asset is "an extremely loyal fan and user base."

"So if (Uber) has food, people are going to want food from Uber," he said.

Uber services launched in 2015

This past year saw the launchof UberEats in Toronto, which delivers a meal from a short list of food items in less than 10 minutes, or an item from the menus of more than 100 Toronto restaurants in under 45 minutes.

A pilot for UberHop also launched in Toronto mid-December. The service allows users to join up to five other commuters to share a ride into or out of Toronto's financial district and other downtown hubs for a flat rate of between $3.50 and $4.50.

The technology company also facilitated pet playtime this past year, offering puppies and kittens-on-demand in a handful of major Canadian cities. Uber teamed up with animal shelters to deliver pets available for adoption to workplaces for 15 minutes of play time.

Solomon said Canadians have embraced the Uber concept "of anything you want at any time," and there are numerous possibilities for expansion into other sectors.

What to expect in 2016

Starting in 2016, Solomon said Canadians can expect to see major retailers team up with Uber to offer same-day delivery.

He said in China's major cities, shoppers can receive online purchases from big-box stores in less than one hour.

"Uber is going to be able to facilitate that kind of e-commerce here in Canada," Solomon said. "It's going to be a pretty magnificent thing to watch unfold."

Solomon said Uber could bring significant changes to Canada’s health sector by making it easier for doctors and nurses to make house calls.

This past November, UberHealth was used in more than 35 U.S. cities to transport nurses to administer flu shots. Solomon said similar services may roll-out in Canada in the near future.


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