Technology

Uber Eats to expand use of delivery robots

Up to 2,000 more rovers made by Serve Robotics are coming to new markets, including San Jose, Dallas and Vancouver.
Serve robot
Rovers from Serve are coming to new markets with Uber Eats. / Photo courtesy of Server Robotics

Uber Eats is expanding its fleet of food delivery robots after a successful pilot in Los Angeles.

The company will deploy up to 2,000 more robots from Serve Robotics in new markets, including San Jose, Dallas and Vancouver, Serve said Tuesday.

Uber Eats began testing the bots about a year ago in LA. Since then, robot deliveries have grown 30% month over month and more than 200 LA restaurants are now offering the option. 

The four-wheeled rovers travel on sidewalks and have Level 4 autonomy, meaning they can operate for extended periods without human intervention. Serve says the bots can reduce traffic and pollution and make delivery more efficient and affordable. 

Uber Eats customers can opt in to the possibility of having a robot bring them their order from participating restaurants. When the delivery arrives, they’ll get a notification and a code they can use to unlock the robot or car and retrieve their food.

“This partnership is a major step towards mass commercialization of robotics for autonomous delivery, and it is a testament to the success of our partnership,” said Serve co-founder and CEO Ali Kashani in a statement.

Uber Eats was also piloting delivery using self-driving cars made by Motional.

The deal is a step forward for the slow-moving development of robotic delivery. But the business has also faced setbacks recently. Earlier this month, autonomous delivery company Nuro laid off 30% of its workforce, citing the high costs of deploying the vehicles commercially. The company’s founders said Nuro plans to focus more on R&D going forward.

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