Uber Eats expanded its partnership with Serve Robotics, an autonomous sidewalk delivery startup. Serve’s self-driving robots have already completed thousands of contactless food delivery orders in major U.S. cities. The expanded partnership enables Uber Eats customers to use the on-demand robotic delivery service next year.
Serve was founded in 2017 as the robotics branch of Postmates, which was acquired by Uber for $2.65 billion last year. It is now a stand-alone startup backed by Uber and other investors.
"Serve Robotics is looking forward to delivering great convenience for Uber Eats merchants and customers," said Ali Kashani, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics, which is based in San Francisco. "Uber is our first commercial partner and will be a strong source of demand for us as we use contactless delivery to power community commerce at scale."
Serve's autonomous delivery services solve many problems in food delivery today, including making the service more affordable and more sustainable, according to Uber Eats. On-demand delivery exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers stayed home, leaving food retailers and restaurants scrambling to keep up with demand. More autonomous solutions are likely to be considered as consumer demands remain heightened.
“We are excited to partner with Serve Robotics to test a new kind of delivery in Los Angeles that's safe, reliable and environmentally friendly," said Sarfraz Maredia, vice president and head of Uber Eats in the United States and Canada. "We're always looking for ways to better serve merchants and consumers, which is why we're working with the team at Serve to explore the potential of this technology."