Motional Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. today announced a partnership to launch autonomous deliveries for Uber customers, starting in Santa Monica, Calif., in early 2022. Motional said its all-electric vehicles will deliver a curated set of meal kits from select restaurants on Uber Eats. The companies said their partnership is an industry first between an autonomous vehicle technology developer and an on-demand delivery provider.
“Today, Motional enters the autonomous delivery market,” stated Karl Iagnemma, president and CEO of Motional. “We’re proud that our first delivery partner is Uber and are eager to begin using our trusted driverless technology to offer efficient and convenient deliveries to customers in California. We’re confident this will be a successful collaboration with Uber and see many long-term opportunities for further deploying Motional’s technology across the Uber platform.”
“We’re excited to partner with Motional to test a new kind of delivery for Uber Eats consumers in 2022,” said Sarfraz Maredia, vice president and head of Uber Eats in the U.S. and Canada. “Our consumers and merchant partners have come to expect convenience, reliability and innovation from Uber, and this collaboration represents a huge opportunity to meet—and exceed—those expectations.”
Uber Eats to use IONIQ 5-based robotaxis
San Francisco-based Uber Eats said it uses Uber Technology Inc.'s mobile technology and logistics experience to partner with 780,000 restaurants and merchants in more than 6,000+ cities globally, while keeping average wait time under 30 minutes. It delivers meals, groceries, and alcohol, among other goods.
Founded in 2020 as a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, Motional is developing robotic taxicabs. The Boston-based startup said its partnership with Uber will rely on its expertise in operating commercial autonomous fleets and integrating its technology with on-demand customer applications.
Motional will use the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi, with in-vehicle modifications, to enable autonomous deliveries. The company said this will be the first time its SAE Level 4 vehicles are used for deliveries, and it signals the company’s evolution to a dual-purpose product strategy.
The partners said they expect autonomous vehicles to play an important role in the on-demand delivery ecosystem, with such vehicles helping to increase access to convenient and affordable deliveries. Motional and Uber said they will share more details ahead of the service's launch next year.
Motional continues expansion
“The combined U.S. market for driverless robotaxi and food delivery service is expected to exceed $115 billion by 2030,” wrote Iagnemma in a blog post. “Demand for food delivery has doubled since the start of the pandemic, and the use of mobile food-delivery apps is up more than 20% this year.”
“While we continue to explore new use cases for our technology, on-demand delivery presents the greatest market opportunity while being most closely aligned with Motional’s existing robotaxi technology,” he said. “As an additional benefit, the more our vehicles are operating on the road, the more data they can collect, which enables us to capture more edge cases and more quickly train our system.”
“Along with today’s milestone, we recently announced significant investments in our U.S. operations, including expanding our East Coast (Boston) and West Coast (California and Las Vegas) operations,” Iagnemma noted. “Not only will these investments help support our initial market launches, but they will also enable us to scale up our operations to meet growing demand.”
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