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Shuddle, the Uber-for-Kids App, Is Now on Android

It will ferry your kids to school, soccer practice and underwater basket weaving.

Shuddle

If you’re a mom or dad living in the Bay Area, take note: Shuddle, the rides-for-kids service, has arrived on Android. With the news, the company also announced that it has hit 15,000 rides.

It’s not a huge number for its six months of existence — it comes out to roughly 80 rides a day — but Shuddle is choosing to grow slowly and deliberately since its operational complexity is much higher than a traditional on-demand ride company like Uber.

Shuddle was started by one of Sidecar’s co-founders, Nick Allen, to allow parents to send their kids places with a driver. They can schedule a pickup time in the app and enter a destination for drop-off, and drivers will ferry their children to and from school, soccer practice, underwater basket weaving or any other activities that crop up in an overbooked life.

On the surface, it might sound just like Uber, but there are some subtleties. All the drivers are required to have some childcare or caretaker experience, whether as a babysitter, camp counselor, teacher or parent. Shuddle does reference checks on would-be applicants.

On the road, GPS and other data from drivers’ phones is monitored to alert Shuddle staffers if they are speeding or trying to text or make a call. The company has partnerships with some schools so that drivers can sign kids in and out without a problem.

It has protection systems in place that Uber and taxis don’t, but the biggest question for Shuddle is still safety. All it takes is one child abduction case for all the parents using the app to stop.

One additional measure for ensuring the hiring of qualified drivers would be the use of live-scan, fingerprint-based background checks rather than relying on third party agencies. (If you need a primer, here’s an FAQ on Live Scans vs. agency background checks.)

“[Live scans] are something we’re looking into,” Allen said. “But I’m also very confident in the process and procedures we have.”

As you might expect, the sophisticated nature of Shuddle means it costs more than an Uber or Lyft ride. There’s a minimum fare of $12 for each ride and a monthly membership fee of $9 to be able to use the service. I’ve reached out to the company to find out how time and mileage are calculated, and I’ll update this if I hear back.

Scaling up the service will be challenging. Setting up school partnerships for pickup approval requires manual relationship building. Hiring only people with a caretaking background limits the pool of potential drivers. But with $9.6 million in early funding from investment firm RRE Ventures, Shuddle intends to take its product national. For now, it’s focused on growing across the San Francisco Bay Area, covering Marin, San Jose, the East Bay, the Peninsula and San Francisco proper.

“There are families all over the country, whether cities or suburbs, that the current services don’t work for,” Allen said. “Our goal is to be the trusted service for that segment of the population.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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