Uber Eats

Uber Eats and Nuro have signed a 10-year agreement to provide robot meal delivery in California and Texas.

Nuro’s delivery vehicles are large enough to drive along the street.

After signing a 10-year deal with autonomous driving startup Nuro, Uber Eats customers in California and Texas may soon have their takeaway delivered by a driverless delivery pod.

Nuro's Robot
Uber and Nuro have been negotiating for nearly four years.

The announcement today is the conclusion of four years of back-and-forth negotiations between the two corporations. Uber planned to employ Nuro’s trucks for delivery in Houston in 2019, but those plans never materialised. The two companies have now agreed to a ten-year agreement to expand robot deliveries to more clients than ever before.

Uber and Nuro will begin deploying self-driving vehicles in two locations this fall: Mountain View, California, and Houston, Texas. Neither business would provide the number of vehicles or the projected number of consumers who will participate in these early testing, but they did indicate they intend to expand the service area to the wider Bay Area in California in the future.

AVAILABLE IN HOUSTON, TEXAS AND MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA

Nuro’s R2 vehicle, now in its second generation, is not your standard delivery robot created solely for sidewalk mobility. It’s substantially bigger, roughly half the width of a compact sedan, but much shorter than most cars. And there’s no place inside for human passengers or drivers, making it truly driverless. It has a top speed of 45 mph, making it perfect for neighbourhood trips but not for highway driving. It can carry up to 500 pounds and has enough sections for around 24 supermarket bags.

Nuro, which is worth $8.6 billion, was formed in 2016 by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, two veterans of Google’s self-driving car project, which evolved into Waymo. It is one of the few firms that is now operating fully driverless vehicles on public roads — that is, vehicles without safety drivers behind the wheel. It was the first company to gain a special exemption from some federal safety regulations, and it was also the first in California to charge for its driverless deliveries.

The California DMV permission only allows the corporation to operate its delivery service in areas of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, which would include much of Silicon Valley and its tech workers but not San Francisco or Oakland. This means that the corporation will need to seek further DMV approval before expanding its service area.

Nuro isn’t the only self-driving firm that collaborates with Uber. In addition, the company is collaborating with Serve Robotics and Motional to test robot deliveries. Serve Robotics uses sidewalk delivery robots, whereas Motional employs electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUVs with two safety drivers in the front seats. Customers in the Los Angeles area can now access Serve and Motional’s respective Uber Eats pilots.

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