Uber launches robot food delivery in two California cities
The world is changing right before our eyes. For decades, food delivery has been done by human workers. But that’s slowly changing. It’s no longer a matter of if but when human food delivery will be replaced by robots. Late last year, we wrote about Nuro, a self-driving tech startup that delivers groceries and other items from the street using autonomous robotic vehicles.
But Nuro is just one of a dozen tech companies working on autonomous delivery. In November 2021, Uber Eats, a subsidiary of ride-hailing giant Uber, partnered with Serve Robotics to automate the last-mile delivery for Uber Eats customers living in Los Angeles early this year. Now, the time has arrived.
Yesterday, Uber officially announced the launch of the pilot food delivery services with autonomous vehicles in two California cities of Santa Monica and West Hollywood. In addition, Uber also said it was adding electric vehicle charging stations into its global driver app.
The “Autonomous Delivery” is just one of the nine product announcements Uber made on its website. Commenting on the robot food delivery, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement:
“We’re introducing two autonomous delivery programs in Los Angeles. Serve Robotics’ friendly sidewalk robots offer short-range deliveries with easy handoffs. Motional builds all-electric autonomous vehicle fleets designed to safely navigate city streets. These pilots mark our continued work to bring safe, reliable, and affordable autonomous technology to merchants and consumers everywhere.”
Founded in 2017, Serve Robotics is a spin-off from the robotics division of Postmates. The company’s self-driving robots have successfully completed tens of thousands of contactless deliveries in major U.S. cities. Serve is also backed by Uber, alongside other leading investors. Postmates was later acquired by Uber in 2020.
Meanwhile, Uber Eats said the vehicles in both services are actively monitored by human operators, Uber said, adding that “it will be some time before this technology is operated at scale.”
Below is a video of the launch.