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Autonomous Driving Developer Motional to Deliver Uber Eats Orders With Self-Driving Vehicles in California

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【Summary】Motional, the $4 billion autonomous driving joint venture formed by automaker Hyundai Motor Co and mobility technology company Aptiv, announced a partnership with Uber Technologies Inc to deliver Uber Eats food orders using self-driving vehicles. The service will kick off in early 2022 in Santa Monica, California.

FutureCar Staff    Dec 16, 2021 9:30 AM PT
Autonomous Driving Developer Motional to Deliver Uber Eats Orders With Self-Driving Vehicles in California

Motional, the $4 billion autonomous driving joint venture formed by automaker Hyundai and Aptiv, announced a partnership with Uber Technologies Inc to deliver Uber Eats food orders using self-driving vehicles.

The service will kick off in early 2022 in Santa Monica, California.

The partnership is Uber's first on-road delivery service with an autonomous vehicle (AV) technology provider. It will also be the first time that Motional's SAE Level 4 vehicles are used for delivery service instead of carrying passengers.

Motional will use its next-generation electric Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi, which have been outfitted to deliver food orders that need to be kept hot or cold while in transit.

"We're excited to partner with Motional to test a new kind of delivery for Uber Eats consumers in 2022," said Sarfraz Maredia, VP and Head of Uber Eats in the US & 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."

Motional's partnership with Uber will leverage its industry-leading expertise in operating commercial autonomous fleets and integrating its technology with on-demand consumer applications. Motional's driverless technology is also powering an autonomous ride-hailing service with its pattern Lyft Inc in Las Vegas.

Hyundai and Aptiv first started testing its autonomous technology in Las Vegas four years ago with Lyft. Customers in Las Vegas are being picked up in autonomous vehicles that can be summoned using Lyft's smartphone app.

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The Uber Eats autonomous delivery service will use Hyundai's new IONIQ 5 robotaxi.

Since the pandemic began in early 2020, Uber Eats has been the main source of profit for Uber and the division has experienced rapid growth as its core ride hailing business slowed as people stayed at home. 

Uber Eats delivers meals from restaurants and grocery stores. The division leverages Uber's industry-leading ride-hailing technology and logistics expertise to complete most deliveries in under 30 minutes. Uber Eats has partnered with roughly 780,000 merchants in 6,000 cities around the world, giving customers conventiance access to a wide variety of on-demand products.

"Today, Motional enters the autonomous delivery market," said Karl Iagnemma, Motional's President and CEO. "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."

Autonomous driving technology has the potential to reshape food delivery. The combined U.S. market for driverless robotaxi and food delivery service is expected to exceed $115 billion by 2030. Demand for food delivery has doubled since the start of the pandemic, and the use of mobile food delivery apps like Uber Eats is up more than 20% this year alone. 

Last week, Uber participated in a $13 million funding round of startup Serve Robotics, a Redwood City, California-based company that's developing tiny autonomous robots for meals or groceries. Serve Robotics announced a delivery partnership with Uber Eats in November.

The delivery bots are fully-electric and can operate on sidewalks and other locations that cars cannot, making them well suited for app-based food delivery services in urban areas. The on-demand robotic delivery service will be available to Uber Eats customers starting in Los Angeles early next year.

Motional and Uber will share additional details about this new service ahead of launch early next year.


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