More Uber Eats customers would be getting their orders from vehicles with no delivery drivers in sight. That’s because Uber has signed a 10-year partnership with Nuro to use its autonomous, electric vehicles to deliver food orders in the US. They will begin this fall in Houston, Texas and Mountain View, California, before eventually expanding their service to the greater Bay Area.
According to TechCrunch, customers can’t choose and don’t even know if their order is being delivered by a Nuro bot when they make their purchase. That also means they will be charged the same rates for delivery regardless of the delivery method. They will also get their tip back if they choose to give one through the app and a Nuro vehicle will appear instead of a human worker. They do have to walk out to pick up their order themselves, which can be quite a hassle in the rain.
Based on the video the companies released showing what a Nuro delivery would look like, customers would have to enter a code to open the vehicle’s door and receive their order. Nuro introduced its third-generation van earlier this year, which comes with an external airbag to protect pedestrians. As it has yet to formally launch its new vehicle model, it will initially use its second-generation cars, called the R2, for the partnership. Designed to be completely driverless, the R2 is equipped with 360-degree and thermal cameras, lidar and radar to effectively navigate roads on its own.
Nuro’s vehicles have been supplying Houston since 2019 for other companies such as Walmart. In California, it received the state’s first Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit in 2020, giving it the authority to operate a commercial autonomous vehicle service. As TechCrunch notes that Nuro could receive compensation for every Uber Eats delivery in the state.
Nuro isn’t the only autonomous delivery company that Uber Eats has an agreement with. The food delivery service launched a pilot with Motional in May for orders in Santa Monica, California, though those autonomous vehicle deliveries still have a safety driver behind the wheel. Uber Eats also launched a trial service with delivery company Serve Robotics for short delivery routes in West Hollywood in the same month.
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