According to TechCrunch’s reporting, Uber Eats is commencing not just one but two autonomous delivery experiments in the city of Los Angeles today. The first one is via a cooperation with Motional that involves autonomous vehicles and was first revealed in December. The second one is with the sidewalk delivery service Serve Robotics, which is a startup that came out of Uber itself.
The trials will be limited, and only a select group of retailers, such as the Kreation juicery and the organic café, will make deliveries to participants. While Serve will be in charge of the shorter delivery routes in West Hollywood, Motional will be in charge of the larger delivery routes in Santa Monica. According to a statement made by an Uber spokeswoman to TechCrunch, the company would be able to learn “what consumers truly want, what merchants genuinely want, and what makes sense for delivery” from the two separate pilot projects.
It seems like Uber will charge for the deliveries that are made by Serve. It has been stated that Motional does not have the permission that is necessary for autonomous car deliveries in the state of California; hence, it seems that consumers will not be paid for deliveries made by their vehicles, at least for the time being. In addition, human operators will take control of the system when it is close to drop-off places “to provide a convenient and smooth experience for consumers,” according to a spokeswoman for the company.
The robots that Serve develops will, for the most part, be able to function on their own, but in specific circumstances, such as when they must cross a street, remote operators will take charge.
Customers located inside certain test zones will have the option of having their food delivered by an autonomous vehicle, and they will be able to monitor the delivery in the same manner that they do with traditional deliveries. When the food is delivered, clients will be able to use a password to open the vehicle and get their meals from the backseat of a Motional car or a Serve cooler, whichever is most convenient for them. According to a statement made by a spokeswoman for Uber, “the aim is that [the trials] are successful and that we learn over the following months and then figure out how to expand.”