Uber Eats Deliveries Would Go Driverless In California, Texas

Uber Eats

Pointers at Glance

  • Uber Eats has signed a deal with Nuro, an autonomous vehicle start-up.
  • The company announced that Uber Eats deliveries would go driverless in California, Texas.

Customers of Uber Eats in Texas and California will soon have their deliveries dispatched by driverless delivery pods.

Uber Eats has announced a 10-year agreement with autonomous vehicle start-up Nuro. Operations will start later in 2022 in Houston and Mountain View before expanding to the Greater Bay area.

Nuro was established in 2016 and is based in Mountain View. The orders will initially be carried out by its electric R2 vehicle, which has been explicitly designed to carry packages and travel on public roads rather than sidewalks.

The R2 has no space for a driver or passengers and delivers its autonomous functionality through lidar, radar, and cameras, which provide a 360-degree view of its surroundings. The top speed is 25 mph, less than half the width of a standard compact car, and significantly shorter.

Though deliveries may be completed by a more advanced vehicle, the Nuro, the company revealed earlier in 2022. It is planned to be rolled out in 2023 and is described as an automotive production grade. The improvements over the R2 are:

  • A 500 lb cargo volume.
  • Double the capacity.
  • Modular inserts that customize storage.
  • Temperature-controlled compartments to ensure goods are warm or cool.

For Uber Eats customers, the experience will vary slightly from what they are accustomed to. For starters, they will have to go outside because, as Nuro explains on its website: “Our vehicles don’t have drivers. Or passengers. We will pull up right to your curb, and all you will need to do is enter a code on the pin pad to access your order.”

There will be no indication while placing the order as to whether it will be a human who will deliver or the Nuro vehicle, and there will be no difference in price, although the latter cannot accept tips.

Uber Eats is not the first significant partner Nuro has teamed with, having worked with Walmart and Domino’s on deliveries.

Additionally, because it is one of the few companies with the required permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles to operate an autonomous vehicle delivery service in California, Nuro can charge a fee for each delivery from Uber Eats.

Driverless deliveries by self-driving cars have been on the Uber Eats menu for some time. Earlier this year, it announced it was partnering with Motional on a trial service in Los Angeles that would use the Boston company’s self-driving Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Simultaneously, it also disclosed it was using a sidewalk bot from Serve Robotics for deliveries in West Hollywood.

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