Contents:

    We’re looking at more robots trying to take our jobs, an Uber rival making a big leap, lack of drivers during the pandemic and more during this week’s roundup. Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins will explore what some of these things could mean for rideshare drivers and her opinion on the news of the week.

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    Instacart exploring use of robot-driven warehouses [Financial Times]

    Summary: US grocery delivery service Instacart is exploring the use of robotic warehouses to fulfil its orders, as it looks to streamline the process of ferrying items from stores into customers’ homes. San Francisco-based Instacart currently uses more than 500,000 gig workers to fulfil online orders at well-known grocery chains such as Safeway and Walmart. The workers drive to stores, pick the goods off the shelf, check out and deliver to customers’ doors. Instacart charges a delivery fee, and in some cases takes a commission, while gathering lucrative data on shopping habits….

    My Take: Automating this process could be beneficial to Instacart as a business, but there would be a lot of shoppers left high and dry without a job if this is the new norm for Instacart. They would still need drivers to deliver the groceries, so that is a plus side, and perhaps it would mean they could pay their drivers more if they are saving money with the robotic picking process. Also, as the article points out, it could make grocery stores nervous because if they had their own warehouses, Instacart wouldn’t be partnering with them anymore, leaving the stores without delivery drivers for their loyal customers.

    Is Instacart trying to become the new Amazon? Because I don’t really see them succeeding at that.

    Uber stock slips as Chinese rival reportedly plans to enter the Western European market [Business Insider]

    Summary: Uber shares fell Wednesday with a report that rival Didi is preparing to operate in Europe. Didi is considering ride-hailing services in the UK, France and Germany, The Wall Street Journal reported. Didi is making expansion plans ahead of a possible IPO for the Beijing-based company….

    My Take: Good. Uber could use another rival. From my understanding, Didi is profitable and tends to take less money from their drivers than Uber does. Those two combined make for great competition.

    As a consumer, I’d prefer giving my money to a company that pays their drivers more, but maybe that’s just me since I’ve experienced the suckiness of not being paid enough for my services on rideshare.

    Where is my Uber? Some Central Illinoisans question if Uber is still servicing the area [Central Illinois Proud]

    Summary: Some residents have expressed how hard it has been lately to catch an Uber ride in Peoria. Some residents open the Uber app only to see that no cars are available in the area. This can be frustrating for some people because Uber is designed to be at your doorstep in minutes, at half the price of a taxi. Uber brands itself as being quick, cheap, and reliable, but some ride-share users like Stevon Hamilton said the app hasn’t been living up to his expectations….

    My Take: It’s not just Peoria, IL being affected in this way. Passengers on Reddit have been complaining for months about how long it takes to get a driver to pick them up. Most people’s response is simply: “Maybe it’s because we’re in a global pandemic.”

    While that is true, are there really that many fewer drivers out there? Is this going to make Uber and Lyft go under in the long run? Some drivers are able to receive unemployment to stay off the road and stay safe. If enough drivers are doing that and not enough are willing to take their place, it could definitely put rideshare companies in a sticky spot. As more people stop relying on Uber or Lyft (since getting a driver is unreliable at the moment), it’s more likely they’ll find an alternative and not go back.

    Some drivers have just quit because they don’t get paid enough or at all for longer pickups which is all that are being offered with so few others on the road.

    We reached out to our readers on Facebook, and here are some of their thoughts:

    Mario Salazar stated, “Yeah, uber will pay you good when the pandemic ends and like a week later they will cut the fares 75%.”

    Malinda Dew added, “Here in Hawaii it’s the same thing. So many drivers are just not on the road. When I do go out, I’m busy. Drawback is that I travel far to pick riders up. Many have said they tried for a long time to get a driver. Do they tip more because they are grateful that someone finally showed up? Not usually.”

    Dave Schjolden posted, “In Massachusetts, the surge system is shut down because of the pandemic. In typical high volume times like late at night, or during a snow storm, wait times are hours.”

    Uber driver is arrested for helping well-dressed woman in six-inch heels and ball gown flee after she crashed her sports car in Miami [Daily Mail]

    Summary: The crash happened on Miami’s South Beach just after midnight on Tuesday. Sharon Martinez-Lazaro, 27, crashed into a store, crumpling her Dodge Charger. In six-inch heels and a long dress, she then called an Uber and left the scene. A crowd gathered to film and heckle her as she calmly abandoned her car. The Uber driver was caught on camera helping her with her luggage. Miami police tracked the Uber down and she was handcuffed and arrested. Bobby Stone, the driver, was also arrested and charged with being an accessory….

    My Take: Well, for starters, I’ll never understand the need for writers to point out in the headline what a woman was wearing as part of the story if it literally has nothing to do with anything like it does here.

    Second, as a driver, you have to think. You have to use your better judgment in something like this. They may not have realized it was illegal to pick her up, but you have to be wary of an unusual situation like this. You drive up, see a car has crashed into a storefront and you just calmly load your passenger’s luggage and go on your merry way? Wake up, please. Use your head.

    Crime Stoppers Crime of the Week: Milwaukee Lyft driver armed with gun saves himself from carjacking [CBS]

    Summary: A Milwaukee Lyft driver’s quick thinking may have saved his life after two men tried to carjack him on Saturday night, Feb. 20. It was all caught on video you’ll only see on CBS 58. As two passengers walked toward a Lyft driver’s luxury car near 92nd and Brown Deer in Milwaukee, the driver didn’t think twice….

    My Take: Honestly, my hope is that this driver is not deactivated. Lyft has a pretty strict no weapons policy for its drivers. It would be a shame if he lost his side gig because of carrying a weapon when it’s against the rules. But, that being said, good for him for standing up for himself. I’m glad the situation went well for him. Carjackings are turning into the new normal it seems for rideshare drivers. I hope others are prepared to protect themselves, as well.

    Is ridesharing in trouble because of the pandemic? Are carjackings becoming the new normal? What’s your take on this week’s roundup?

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    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula has been writing for the Rideshare Guy since the fall of 2018. The main focus of her articles has been breaking news, reviewing new apps, driver experiences and more. Prior to her time with the Rideshare Guy, Paula worked as a writer and editor for various publications including local newspapers, sporting goods catalogs, online merchandise and more. She currently has a full-time job editing for a top beauty company and enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in weekly trivia.