More Uber Eats customers would get their orders from vehicles with no delivery staff 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 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 a Nuro bot when they checkout. That also means that they will be charged the same rates for delivery, regardless of the delivery method. Additionally, they will get a refund for their tip if they choose to tip through the app and a Nuro vehicle appears instead of a human worker. However, they have to walk outside to get their order, and that could be quite a hassle in the rain.
According to the video the companies posted to show what a Nuro delivery would look like, customers would have to enter a code to open the vehicle door and receive their order. Nuro introduced its third-generation delivery vehicle, which comes with an external airbag to protect pedestrians, earlier this year. Since it has yet to formally launch its new vehicle model, it will initially use its second-generation cars called R2 for the partnership. The R2 was designed to be completely autonomous and is equipped with 360-degree and thermal cameras, lidar and radar to effectively navigate roads on its own.
Nuro vehicles have been making deliveries in Houston since 2019 for other companies like Walmart. In California, it was granted the state’s first Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit in 2020, giving it the authority to operate a commercial autonomous vehicle service. What TechCrunch points out, that would allow Nuro to receive a fee for each Uber Eats delivery in the state.
Nuro is not the only autonomous delivery company that Uber Eats has an agreement with. The food delivery service launched a pilot program with Motional in May for orders in Santa Monica, California, though deliveries made by autonomous vehicle will still have a safety driver behind the wheel. Uber Eats also launched a pilot service with curbside delivery company Serve Robotics in the same month for short delivery routes in West Hollywood.
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