Uber launches pilot robot food delivery service in California

Uber Technologies Inc. on Monday said it has launched a pilot food delivery service with autonomous vehicles in two California cities and said it is adding electric vehicle charging stations to its global driver app.

The announcements are part of Uber’s annual product event where Ride-Hale and the food delivery company showcase the latest updates to its app.

Uber has announced a food delivery service using autonomous vehicles and a separate pilot using sidewalk robots. Both services are available to Uber Eats users in Santa Monica, California and West Hollywood, and customers will have the ability to opt out of the programs.

The self-driving joint venture between Hyundai Motor Co and Aptiv PLC, in collaboration with Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Motional, was initially announced in December. It launched on Monday, Uber and Motional reported.

Uber says the pavement robots were supplied by Serv Robotics, a spin-off delivery company PostMets, which Uber acquired in 2020.

Both service vehicles are actively monitored by human operators, Uber said, adding that “it will take some time before this technology can be operated on a scale.”

Self-driving companies have repeatedly pushed timelines to scale for truly driverless trips, with only a limited number of fully autonomous programs available across the United States.

On Monday, Uber added that it was launching a map of electric vehicle charging stations in its driver app this summer in an effort to promote drivers in the United States and later worldwide to switch to a battery-powered vehicle.

Uber, which aims to have only electric vehicles on its platforms in the United States, Canada and Europe by 2030, says charging is one of the biggest hurdles for drivers to switch to EV.

The company added that it is launching an option for party and coach bus rentals this summer, and passenger vans through its US app in collaboration with rental service US Coachways.

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