Uber Eats To Test Delivering Food To Customers By Drone

Today at the 3rd annual Uber Elevate Summit, the company announced plans for Uber Eats to make deliveries by drone. Uber showed a video where they processed an Uber Eats order from McDonald’s for delivery via drone. The McDonald’s employee placed the order of a Big Mac and fries into specially designed drone packaging meant to regulate food temperature. The package was then attached to a drone which flew the food from the restaurant to a designated location where with the help of a QR code landing strip, the drone landed the order on the roof of an Uber Eats car. The delivery driver then delivered the order to the customer.
Behind the scenes for flight based deliveries, Uber’s Elevate Cloud Systems will track and guide drones, as well as notify Eats delivery drivers when and where to pick up their food.  From there, the driver will complete the last mile to hand-deliver the food to the customer. The system utilizes the high tech of using drones in combination with personalized customer service. The main objective of using drones is to improve delivery speed. In dense urban environments, Uber says that drones can make deliveries three times faster than bikes or car.
Uber completed an initial round of testing at San Diego State University in partnership with McDonald’s. Uber is also working with the Federal Aviation Administration on the project. This summer, the company plans to begin drone delivery in San Diego with pricing “consistent” with Uber Eats regular delivery. (Uber Eats delivery can currently cost up to $8.50.)
“We’ve been working closely with the FAA to ensure that we’re meeting requirements and prioritizing safety,” Uber Elevate Head of Flight Operations Luke Fischer said in a statement. “From there, our goal is to expand Uber Eats drone delivery so we can provide more options to more people at the tap of a button. We believe that Uber is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge as we’re able to leverage the Uber Eats network of restaurant partners and delivery partners as well as the aviation experience and technology of Uber Elevate.”
Ultimately, drone delivery means Uber Eats will be able to get deliveries to customers faster and enable restaurants to reach more customers. Uber Eats is currently growing faster than the company’s core ride-hailing platform. In the first quarter of 2019, the company saw gross bookings grow over 100%, to $3.07 billion. It will be interesting to see the strategies employed by Uber Eats’ main competitors GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates to improve their speeds of delivery.
Other companies are also working on delivery by drone. At the beginning of June, Amazon announced that it would begin making drone deliveries within “months.” Google has also received FAA approval to test drone delivery in Virginia.
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