Motional’s all-electric IONIQ 5 vehicles have been adapted to enable autonomous deliveries.
Third-party delivery service Uber Eats is working with driverless technology company Motional to bring an autonomous delivery pilot to Santa Monica, Calif. The latter company’s vehicles are now conducting end-to-end food deliveries via the Uber Eats network.
Motional and Uber Eats first announced their partnership late last year, marking the first on-road autonomous vehicle (AV) pilot for the delivery company. Motional’s all-electric IONIQ 5 vehicles have been adapted to enable autonomous deliveries and spent months doing extensive testing in the Los Angeles area.
"At Uber, we're always looking for ways to use new technology to help consumers go anywhere and get anything," said Noah Zych, global general manager for the autonomous mobility and delivery business at San Francisco-based Uber. "We're thrilled to begin piloting with Motional in California and are eager to see how their promising autonomous technology will begin to change how people and goods move throughout the world for the better."
Participating merchants will receive a notification when the AV arrives, then meet the vehicle at the designated pick-up location and put the order in a compartment in the backseat. At the drop-off location, the customer will receive an alert, unlock the vehicle door via the Uber Eats app and collect their order.
The pilot program will allow the two companies to study the integration of their technologies, consumer demand, user interactions with the vehicle and other features needed to enable autonomous deliveries. Uber sees a long-term future with these types of deliveries for a variety of use cases.
"Autonomous delivery signifies the next phase of Motional's commercial roadmap," said Abe Ghabra, chief operating officer at Boston-based Motional. "This service will provide the learnings and experience needed to make Motional the trusted AV provider for on-demand delivery networks. We're proud to partner with Uber on this important milestone and begin introducing Uber Eats customers to autonomous technology."
Uber Eats recently expanded its partnerships with Albertsons Cos. and Cardenas Markets. The Albertsons partnership includes more than 2,000 of the grocer’s banner stores nationwide, among them Albertsons, Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Tom Thumb and Randalls. Hispanic grocer Cardenas Markets now offers on-demand and scheduled delivery via Uber Eats at all 59 of its stores.