Uber continues expanding its use of automated robots for food and grocery delivery.
The Uber Eats on-demand delivery subsidiary of Uber is partnering with self-driving robot provider Cartken to provide consumers in Miami with automated delivery. Starting Thursday, Dec. 15, select retailers in the Dadeland area of Miami-Dade County can offer Uber Eats deliveries via Cartken's artificial intelligence (AI)-powered sidewalk delivery robots.
The new Uber Eats delivery agreement marks Cartken’s first formal partnership with a global on-demand delivery app beyond college campuses. Uber plans to expand its use of Cartken robots for delivery in Miami-Dade and to additional cities in 2023.
"Miami is a thriving Uber Eats market and we are excited to bring its residents a little more Uber magic through sidewalk robot delivery," said Noah Zych, global head of autonomous mobility and delivery at Uber. "Our partnership with Cartken marks another important milestone for our efforts in automated and autonomous technology and will provide greater reliability and affordability to Miami merchants and consumers."
"We are excited about how this partnership with Uber will bring the advantages of robotics to food delivery—and ultimately create more connected communities," said Christian Bersch, co-founder and CEO at Cartken. "Together, we have the opportunity to reduce traffic congestion, help local merchants to increase delivery capacity, and bring consumers fast, convenient, and emission-free deliveries."
Uber makes inroads in robotic delivery
The new collaboration with Cartken is the latest step in Uber’s rapidly expanding push to deliver food via autonomous vehicles. 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. And 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.” Participating retailers will receive a notification when the vehicle arrives, meet it at a designated pick-up location, and place the order in a specially-designed compartment in the backseat.
Upon arrival at the drop-off location, the customer will receive an alert, securely unlock the vehicle door via the Uber Eats app, and collect their order from the backseat. The pilot will allow Motional and Uber to study the integration of their technologies, consumer demand, the user interactions with the vehicle, as well as additional features that may be needed to enable autonomous deliveries.
Uber is also partnering with autonomous sidewalk delivery company Serve Robotics to pilot an on-demand robotic delivery service in Los Angeles. Uber Eats customers in the Los Angeles area are now able to have orders delivered contact-free by zero-emissions Serve rovers.
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. According to Serve, its self-driving robots have successfully completed tens of thousands of contactless deliveries in major U.S. cities, and it has established several commercial partnerships.
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.