- Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and technology firm Aptiv, and Uber announced an autonomous food delivery pilot for Uber Eats customers in Santa Monica, California.
- Motional will use Hyundai IONIQ 5 electric vehicles modified to operate as robotaxis to deliver orders for the restaurant Kreation Kafe. The pilot project launches today and has no set end date.
- Motional has operated a public robotaxi service in Las Vegas for about four years through a partnership with Lyft. The partnership with Uber Eats “marks Motional’s entry into the autonomous delivery space,” said Eryk Nice, vice president of technology strategy and product, UX and design at Motional.
“We see a huge opportunity for autonomous vehicles to support the movement of people and goods in cities by providing safe and convenient ride-hail and delivery services,” Nice said.
He explained that eligible customers will have the ability to opt into accepting delivery at the curb, rather than at their door. If they select yes, a Motional autonomous vehicle might deliver the order. Human operators will actively monitor the self-driving vehicles, according to Uber spokesperson Leah Seay.
“We want to make Uber the best platform for all AV technology partners — to leverage the power and scale of Uber’s platform to bring safe, reliable autonomous technology to consumers around the world,” Seay added.
Motional has provided more than 100,000 rides in its self-driving robotaxis in Las Vegas, with no at-fault incidents. Its vehicles use lidar, radar and cameras as well as dozens of smart sensors to navigate its environment. The company announced in November that its partnership with Lyft is testing fully driverless robotaxis using the Hyundai IONIQ 5 vehicles in Las Vegas this year. The companies plan to scale up to a full-fledged commercial launch of driverless robotaxis in 2023.
“We view every mile that is driven autonomously as an opportunity to eliminate traffic accidents and make streets safer,” Nice said.
Uber also announced a separate partnership at a press conference this morning with Serve Robotics, which develops sidewalk robots that operate autonomously, and will get underway in West Hollywood, California. These robots are optimized for short-range deliveries with easy handoffs.
Uber Eats has also extended its network to include orders and deliveries within several sports facilities. Customers can order online from stadium concessions and skip the line to pick up their food when ready. The service is available at select stadiums in Southern California; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Houston; San Jose, California; and Rennes, France.
Cailin Crowe contributed reporting to this brief.