Uber Eats takes step towards self-driving service
Uber and Serve Robotics have entered a partnership to introduce self-driving vehicles, powered by AI and robotic technology.
Postmates, the U.S delivery app, created Serve Robotics as a project in 2017 with the aim to create a self-driving delivery service, which currently operates in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The robots can carry over 22kg of delivery goods, and move at a speed of 3km/h. They use 3D scanning technology — or Lidar — to create a real-time map as they navigate their surroundings. The new Serve-Uber partnership aims to roll out an expanded service offering combining the technology of Serve and the reach of Uber Eats in LA.
Sarfraz Maredia, VP and Head of Uber Eats in the US & Canada said: “We are excited to partner with Serve Robotics to test a new kind of delivery in Los Angeles, that’s safe, reliable and environmentally friendly. We’re always looking for ways to better serve merchants and consumers, which is why we’re working with the team at Serve to explore the potential of this technology”.
These new developments contribute to a shift in the delivery industry from labour-intensive to more capital-intensive. This shift is likely to have an effect on Uber Eats drivers, many of whom went on strike in LA this summer due to the precarious nature of Uber’s employment practices.
Co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics, Dr Ali Kashani, said: “Serve Robotics is looking forward to delivering great convenience for Uber Eats merchants and customers. Uber is our first commercial partner and will be a strong source of demand for us as we use contactless delivery to power community commerce at scale”.
In the UK, driverless delivery vehicles are looking likely to emerge in the next few years in a ‘last mile’ capacity, pioneered by firms such as StreetDrone.