Uber Eats to make takeaway deliveries with 2,000 autonomous robots
Image credit: Serve robotics
Uber will add 2,000 autonomous delivery robots to its Uber Eats takeaway service in US cities from 2026.
The firm is partnering with Nvidia-backed startup Serve Robotics who say the robots could help to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, while improving the efficiency of last-mile delivery.
Serve began operating in Los Angeles this year to make deliveries from some 200 restaurants across the city. It said the number of deliveries have grown over 30 per cent month over month since the service launched.
“We are thrilled to be growing our partnership with Uber,” said Dr Ali Kashani, co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics. “This partnership is a major step towards mass commercialisation of robotics for autonomous delivery.
“We are excited to continue our work with Uber to bring this innovative technology to more cities across the country.”
Serve says its sidewalk robots are capable of Level 4 autonomy, which is described by the Society of Automobile Engineers as being able to handle all aspects of driving without human intervention, in certain conditions.
Serve has not revealed which markets it may expand into next, although it is eyeing up San Jose, Dallas and Vancouver as potential locations.
Uber has a long history of trying to automate its services as part of a long-term plan to finally reach profitability after years of continued losses.
Last week it partnered with Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo to begin offering some of its driverless vehicles through its ride-hailing service.
After it became clear that regulatory hurdles were not likely to be cleared as swiftly as once assumed, Uber sold its autonomous vehicle unit in December 2020 to Aurora Innovation and took a stake in the company.
Uber had already started pulling resources away from autonomous R&D as early as 2018 when it ceased development on a proposed line of self-driving trucks.
It has also faced court battles following a fatal crash of one of its driverless cars that caused the death of a pedestrian and negative press for the firm.
Aurora believes that the autonomous trucking sector is where its first commercial vehicles will become available.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.