Uber Eats will launch two automated delivery pilots in Los Angeles on Monday with Serve Robotics, a robotic sidewalk delivery startup, and Motional, an autonomous vehicle technology company.
The new programs are part of a series of new products Uber is rolling out across ride-hailing and delivery platforms, which will be announced Monday at the company’s Global Product Event.
The Initial Momentum Partnership Announced in December and marks the first time Uber has partnered with an AV service provider, as well as Motional’s first foray into automated delivery. Up to this point, Motional has focused on robotaxis, securing a partnership with companies like Lyft and Via.
Serve Robotics is actually a spin-off of Uber, so seeing two partners in the delivery space is not surprising. But it’s worth noting that Uber isn’t working with Aurora on this, given the two companies’ partnerships in the freight spacetheir shared history and the fact that Uber is a big investor in Aurora. Aurora acquires Uber ATGUber’s self-driving arm, in 2020, and under the terms of the deal, invested $400 million in the company, giving the company a 26% stake.
Uber told TechCrunch that the company is looking at working with more players in the space, and the public could start to see more partnerships in the future.
Both pilots started small and delivered only food from a few unnamed merchants (perhaps including an organic and juice cafe called Kreation, pictured above). in this post?). Serve’s programming will focus on shorter rides in West Hollywood. According to an Uber spokesperson, Motional’s program will handle longer-distance deliveries in Santa Monica.
“We will be able to learn from both the pilots what customers really want, the sellers really want, and what it means for deliveries once we get started,” the spokesperson said. integrates its platform with AV companies”. “Hopefully they succeed and we learn in the coming months, then figure out how to scale.”
According to Uber. However, it’s not entirely clear how Uber and Motional will turn that around. In California, to be able to charge for automated deliveries, Motional will need a license to deploy from the Department of Motor Vehicles. So far, it only has a license to check with a safe driver on board.
In response to this, Uber simply said that “Motional and Uber hope that certain delivery fees that are commonly applied may not be charged during this early stage.”
Motional did not respond to a request for comment.
There doesn’t seem to be any law restricting companies from charging for deliveries made by sidewalk robots, so Serve is clear. Uber says if customers decide to tip the Serving robot, they will get a refund.
In addition, according to the rules of Motional’s test license with the California DMV, a human safety operator will be present on the vehicle during delivery. The operator will also manually steer the delivery vehicle near a customer’s drop-off location, if necessary, according to an Uber spokesperson.
Serve’s robot is capable of operating under Level 4 autonomy in some cases, the company said. During the Uber test, the robots will be supervised by a remote operator, who will take over for certain use cases, like crossing the street, Uber said.
Customers residing in one of the two geofenced pilot areas will see an option at checkout to have their food delivered by autonomous vehicle. If they opt-in, customers can track their food as usual, and when it arrives, they’ll receive a notification to meet an external AV. Customers will receive a passcode on their phone that allows them to unlock their car and get their food, whether eating in one of Serve’s air-conditioned robots or the back seat of one of Motional’s cars.