In Houston, Texas, and Mountain View, California, Uber Eats delivery people will face competition from self-driving vehicles within weeks.
Last month, Uber saw a record number of drivers and delivery people operating for its ride-hailing services and for its home delivery subsidiary Uber Eats around the world. But, in the more or less long term, and first for the second activity, the company hopes to be able to do without human delivery people by entrusting the transport of meals to autonomous vehicles. The first trips will be provided this year, first in the United States.
The Nuro R2
After four years of negotiations, Uber signed a contract with the company Nuro. This will provide it with electric and autonomous vehicles for the next ten years. The second-generation R2 vehicles will enter service this fall, first in Texas and California.
Specifically, users of the Uber Eats platform who live in Houston and Mountain View will be able to receive meals delivered by the vehicles featured in the video below.
It is a fully autonomous vehicle, without room for a possible driver, about half the size of a conventional sedan. The craft can reach a top speed of 45 mph (about 72 km/h) and has the capacity to carry 500 pounds (about 226 kg). It has various compartments capable of keeping food cold or hot.
Uber and Nuro did not specify how many of these small cars would be used for these tests. If they prove successful, Uber wants to extend this offer to the entire San Francisco Bay Area, an area in which more than 8 million people live.
Other projects with other companies
Note that Nuro is not the only company to collaborate with Uber on autonomous deliveries. In Los Angeles, the company also works with Serve Robotics and Motional. The first provides robots capable of moving on sidewalks, and the second, Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric SUVs with a safety driver.
Regarding Nuro, it is a company founded in 2016 by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu. It is one of the few companies to have the authorization to circulate vehicles on public roads without any security operator and therefore to offer this type of service. Its range includes three models: the Nuro, the R2 (currently third generation), and a more classic P2, a car with a safety driver.