More Uber Eats customers would receive their orders from unmanned delivery vehicles. 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 start in Houston, Texas and Mountain View, California this fall before eventually expanding their service to the greater Bay Area.
According to TechCrunch, customers won’t be able to choose and won’t even know if their order is being delivered by the Nuro bot when they make their purchase. This also means that they will be charged the same shipping rates regardless of the shipping method. Additionally, they will receive a refund of their tip if they choose to give one through the app and a Nuro vehicle appears instead of a human worker. However, they have to go outside to get their order, and that can be quite unpleasant in the rain.
Based on the video the companies released to show what a Nuro delivery would look like, customers had to enter a code to open the car door and receive their order. Nuro introduced its third-generation delivery vehicle, which comes with an external airbag to protect pedestrians, earlier this year. As it has yet to officially launch its new vehicle model, it will initially use its second-generation cars, called the R2, for the partnership. The R2 is designed to be completely driverless and is equipped with 360-degree and thermal cameras, lidar and radar to efficiently navigate roads alone.
Nuro’s vehicles have been making deliveries in 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. Like TechCrunch notes that this would allow Nuro to receive a fee for every Uber Eats delivery in the state.
Nuro isn’t the only autonomous delivery firm Uber Eats has a deal with. The food delivery service launched a pilot with Motional in May for orders in Santa Monica, California, though those deliveries made by an autonomous vehicle will still have a safe driver behind the wheel. Uber Eats also launched a pilot service with curbside delivery firm Serve Robotics that same month for short delivery routes in West Hollywood.
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