Uber Eats Offers Two Robo-Delivery Services In California

Uber has launched two robot food delivery trials in southern California, and said it is adding electric vehicle charging locations to its driving app.

The company said the changes to its app were to help encourage drivers to switch to electric vehicles.

The company said at its annual Global Product Event said it is now offering a service using autonomous road vehicles, and another using sidewalk robots.

The autonomous car pilot, a collaboration with Motional, the self-driving venture of Hyundai and Aptiv, was announced in December and launched on Monday, focusing on longer-range deliveries in Santa Monica.

Image credit: Uber

Sidewalk robots

The pilot will use Motional’s Ioniq 5 vehicles, which will operate autonomously but under the supervision of human drivers.

Uber said the human drivers would take over driving in cases where the delivery address might be slightly outside the robo-vehicle’s service area.

Motional has up to now focused on developing automated taxis via partnerships with companies such as Lyft and Via.

The sidewalk robots are built by Serve Robotics, a spin-off of Uber’s own subsidiary delivery company Postmates, which it acquired in 2020.

The wheeled icebox-style machines will operate over shorter distances in West Hollywood and will also be monitored by humans.

Image credit: Uber

Delivery zone

Uber acknowledged it would be “some time” before either technology was operated at scale.

To begin with the pilots will offer items from only a few merchants, including Kreation, an organic cafe and juicery with locations across the Los Angeles area.

Users within the zones served by the two pilots will be given an option at checkout to use robotic delivery.

When the delivery arrives, users will receive a notification and will be given a passcode allowing them to retrieve their order from inside the Serve robot or from the back seat of the Motional vehicle, Uber said.

Image credit: Uber
Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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