Uber expands autonomous delivery with Waymo pilot

Uber-Waymo order app screen
Uber is partnering with Waymo for autonomous deliveries.

Uber’s latest test of driverless delivery vehicles is a partnership with Google’s self-driving car subsidiary.

The Uber Eats on-demand delivery subsidiary of Uber is building on what it says is a successful test of autonomous “robotaxis” provided by Waymo (a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet) in Phoenix with the launch of Uber Eats deliveries via Waymo vehicles in select Arizona communities.

Starting Wednesday, April 3, 2024 in the Phoenix metro area - including Tempe, Mesa and Chandler, Ariz., Uber Eats consumers may have their orders delivered by an autonomous vehicle. Uber and Waymo are working with select retailers in the area, including local establishments like Princess Pita, Filiberto's, and BoSa Donuts.

How it works

  • When placing an order where the service is available, customers will see a prompt in the Uber Eats app that says "Autonomous vehicles may deliver your order."
  • Customers will be given the opportunity to opt-out at checkout if you prefer to have their items delivered by a courier.
  • When the autonomous vehicle arrives, customers will receive an in-app notification to take their phone with them to unlock the vehicle and collect items.

"The addition of food delivery to Uber’s ongoing partnership with Waymo reflects both companies’ mission to encourage zero-emission trips and unlock greater innovation for consumers and retailers in Phoenix and beyond," Uber said in a corporate blog post. “If you’re in the Phoenix area, we look forward to serving you soon.”

Uber pilots autonomous delivery

 Via its Uber Eats platform, Uber has tested a variety of driverless and robotic delivery mechanisms. These include a successful pilot of Cartken’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered sidewalk delivery robots in the Dadeland area of Miami-Dade County, and in Fairfax, Virginia.

In September 2022, Uber teamed up with autonomous vehicle manufacturer Nuro to let Uber Eats consumers order meals and goods delivered by Nuro’s zero-occupant autonomous delivery vehicles, which run on public roads and are built specifically to carry food and other goods.

The partnership kicked off with deliveries in Houston and Mountain View, Calif. Uber and Nuro plan to expand the service to the greater Bay Area. 

In May 2022, the company announced it was conducting two separate pilots of two different autonomous delivery vehicles in the Los Angeles area.

One involves end-to-end food deliveries for customers in Santa Monica, Calif. using Motional all-electric, self-driving Ioniq 5 “robotaxis.” Uber is also partnering with autonomous sidewalk delivery company Serve Robotics to pilot an on-demand robotic delivery service in Los Angeles. 

Serve began as the robotics division of Postmates, which was acquired by Uber in July 2020 for $2.65 billion, and was spun off as an independent company in February 2021, with Uber as an investor.

Uber Eats leverages Uber’s technology and logistics capabilities to partner with 825,000 retailers in more than 11,000 cities globally, with an average delivery time the company says is under 30 minutes.

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