Robot food delivery launched by Uber in California

Uber Technologies Inc announced on Monday that it has begun testing driverless food delivery services in two California cities, as well as adding electric car charging stations to its worldwide driver app.

The announcements are part of Uber’s annual product event, when the ride-hailing and food-delivery service shows off the most recent software improvements.

Uber unveiled a meal delivery service that uses self-driving vehicles, as well as a separate test that uses sidewalk robots. Both services will be offered to Uber Eats customers in Santa Monica and West Hollywood, California, and customers will have the option to opt out.

The self-driving car pilot was first unveiled in December in partnership with Motional, a self-driving joint venture between Hyundai Motor Co and Aptiv PLC.

Uber and Motional announced the launch on Monday.

Serve Robotics, a spin-off of delivery business Postmates, which Uber purchased in 2020, is providing the sidewalk robots, according to Uber.

Human operators actively supervise the cars in both services, Uber said, adding that “it will be some time before this technology is operating at scale.”

With only a handful restricted completely autonomous programs accessible across the United States, self-driving startups have continually pushed back timeframes to deliver genuinely driverless rides at scale.

Uber also said on Monday that a map of electric car charging stations would be available in its driver app in the United States this summer, and then globally, in an effort to encourage drivers to convert to a battery-powered vehicle.

Uber, which wants to have entirely electric vehicles on its platform in the United States, Canada, and Europe by 2030, says one of the major barriers to drivers moving to EVs is charging.

In addition, the firm said that it will begin renting party and coach buses, as well as passenger vans, through its US app this summer in conjunction with rental provider US Coachways.

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