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Uber experimenting with lunch delivery service

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Uber may soon use its taxicab network for more than just transporting people around towns.

The company began a two-week pilot program today to test a speedy food delivery service. The program, called Uber Fresh, promises "Hungry to Happy" meals in under 10 minutes. Uber launched its test program in Santa Monica, California for a temporary trial run of the service. The program runs on existing Uber infrastructure, utilizing its team of drivers during lunch hours to deliver food.

The service's early days comes with some limitations. Currently, Uber offers only one meal selection per day consisting of a different sandwich, soup or salad dish each day. Individuals with dietary restrictions currently can't request alternative meals. At the same time, customers pay $12 per order for one meal and a cookie dessert. Delivery drivers also require customers to pick up meals curbside rather than coming up to an office or home to deliver.

The convenience may be enough to support more widespread usage of the service. The 10 minute time frame for deliveries trumps other food delivery services, which often takes an hour or longer. At the same time, ordering is as easy as loading up the Uber smartphone app and requesting a delivery in a similar manner to requesting a taxicab. The app also charges credit cards linked to an Uber account automatically. Delivery drivers, like their UberX counterparts, don't encourage tipping, with an emphasis instead on rating drivers positively online.

The delivery pilot program lasts until at least September 12, and high demand for the service could lead to testing in more areas.