Uber tests drone food delivery, launches new autonomous SUV


  • Tech News
  • Thursday, 13 Jun 2019

An Uber Eats car and drone at the Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC. Uber said it plans to speed up restaurant meal delivery by using drones for its Uber Eats service. For logistical reasons, the drones will not deliver directly to customers, but to a safe drop-off location where an Uber Eats driver will complete the order. — Photos: AFP

An Uber Eats car and drone at the Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC. Uber said it plans to speed up restaurant meal delivery by using drones for its Uber Eats service. For logistical reasons, the drones will not deliver directly to customers, but to a safe drop-off location where an Uber Eats driver will complete the order. — Photos: AFP

WASHINGTON: Uber is testing restaurant food deliveries by drone. 

The company’s Uber Eats unit began the tests in San Diego with McDonald’s and plans to expand to other restaurants later this year. 

Uber says the service should decrease food delivery times. 

It works this way: Workers at a restaurant load the meal into a drone and it takes off, tracked and guided by a new aerospace management system. 

The drone then meets an Uber Eats driver at a drop-off location, and the driver will hand-deliver the meal to the customer.

In the future, the company wants to land drones atop parked vehicles near delivery locations and secure them to the vehicle for the final mile of the delivery.

An Uber Eats car and drone is on exhibit at the Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC June 12, 2019. - Uber said Wednesday it plans to speed up restaurant meal delivery by using drones for its Uber Eats service. For logistical reasons, the drones will not deliver directly to customers, but to a safe drop-off location where an Uber Eats driver will complete the order. In the future, Uber hopes to land the drones on parked vehicles located near each delivery location to allow the final delivery by hand. Uber said it had developed a proprietary airspace management system called Elevate Cloud Systems that will guide the drones to their location. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH / AFP)
In the future, Uber hopes to land the drones on parked vehicles located near each delivery location to allow the final delivery by hand.

Last year Uber and the city of San Diego won a bid from the US Federal Aviation Administration to test food delivery by air. 

"We’ve been working closely with the FAA to ensure that we’re meeting requirements and prioritising safety," Luke Fischer, head of flight operations at Uber Elevate, said in a statement Wednesday. 

The company said the knowledge it gains from the tests will help with Uber’s planned aerial ride-sharing network.

Also on June 12, Uber announced that it would work with Volvo Cars to build a vehicle that comes off the assembly line capable of driving autonomously. 

The ride-hailing company’s self-driving system will be installed in production versions of the Volvo XC90 SUV. The vehicle’s steering and braking systems are designed for computer rather than human control, including several backup systems for both steering and braking functions and battery backup power. If the primary systems fail, the backup system will immediately act to bring the car to a stop.

An Uber Eats car and drone is on exhibit at the Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC June 12, 2019. - Uber said Wednesday it plans to speed up restaurant meal delivery by using drones for its Uber Eats service. For logistical reasons, the drones will not deliver directly to customers, but to a safe drop-off location where an Uber Eats driver will complete the order. In the future, Uber hopes to land the drones on parked vehicles located near each delivery location to allow the final delivery by hand. Uber said it had developed a proprietary airspace management system called Elevate Cloud Systems that will guide the drones to their location. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH / AFP)
Uber said it had developed a proprietary airspace management system called Elevate Cloud Systems that will guide the drones to their location.

Various sensors will allow Uber’s self-driving system to safely operate and manoeuvre in urban areas, the company said. 

Uber and Volvo Cars partnered in September 2016. This is the third car they’ve developed together. 

Volvo says it plans to use a similar vehicle to introduce its own self-driving cars in the early 2020s. 

Uber made the announcement at its third-annual Uber Elevate Summit. 

The announcements came on a day with a lot of activity in autonomous vehicle technology. 

Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle company partly owned by Ford, announced that it would expand testing to Detroit. The company already is testing vehicles in Pittsburgh, Miami, Washington, D.C., Dearborn, Michigan, and Palo Alto, California. Argo had deployed third-generation test vehicles based on the Ford Fusion gas-electric hybrid in all of the cities. They get better sensors and software including higher-resolution radar and cameras. 

Volkswagen confirmed that it has cut ties with autonomous vehicle software and hardware developer Aurora Innovation Inc, which has offices in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. The German automaker is working on a tie-up with Ford that includes a partnership with Argo AI. 

Earlier this week Fiat Chrysler signed on with Aurora, a startup founded by executives who used to work at Google, Tesla and Uber. – AFP