Uber is thinking of getting into the travel business.
The car booking service on Christmas Eve secured a new patent that could be used to plan trips, Business Insider reports.
Called "Uber Travel" in the images, it looks like a normal flight search like you would see on booking site Expedia, but it adds Uber cars. Uber has services in Auckland and Wellington in this country.
A traveller could input their start location, date, and time alongside a destination, and Uber would recommend an itinerary for them.
According to Business Insider, the "magic," as Uber describes it, is being able to also incorporate plans for transportation.
It's a deviation from how conventional travel is typically booked segment by segment now. You start with booking your flight, then choose a hotel, then eventually a rental car or some other transit.
Uber's idea, according to the patent, is to take the trip information and show a recommended flight, hotel, and the cost of an Uber to get you from one point to another.
In the whole process, Uber is acting as the facilitator rather than the provider. In the patent, Uber states that it will tap into the network of airlines, looking at things like a plane's on-time performance and an individual's preference for aisle and window seats.
It will also work with traditional hotels and "shared-economy systems" that allow people to rent out their homes, likely Airbnb.
The patent also covers a way to make travel much easier through the airport, Business Insider reports.
Once Uber knows your scheduled flight, the system is designed to know when a flight actually lands at the airport so it can start calculating when travellers should call an Uber, taking into account processing and baggage collection times.
"The information may include a location at the airport where the user can be picked up in connection with receiving the on-demand transportation service, and a timing indicator to indicate when the user should make a request to receive the on-demand transportation service based on a real-time determination of a number of available service providers in a vicinity of the airport," the patent states.
Essentially, Uber is taking the guesswork out of when to call for a ride when a traveller lands by pre-emptively notifying them when they should, Business Insider says.
While Uber is banned from some airports around the world, drivers can pick up passengers at Auckland International Airport, but do it from a drop-off and pick-up zone rather than the official taxi stands.
Efforts to get comment from Uber in this region were unsuccessful this morning.
Uber may face the same rules as taxis in New Zealand under a government review of its services which it says could add costs and halt its expansion in this country.