Uber has unveiled plans to trial autonomous ‘sidewalk robots’ to deliver food to people’s doorsteps.
The US ride-hailing giant announced the idea as part of a raft of new features and services for its customers.
These included an option for those in certain cities to specifically request a ride in an electric car, which Uber said was part of its global commitment to becoming a zero-emissions mobility platform by 2040.
Comfort Electric is now available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Dubai, with more cities to come soon.
The sidewalk robot concept is one of two autonomous delivery pilot programs being trialled in California.
Uber has unveiled plans to trial autonomous ‘sidewalk robots’ to deliver food to people’s doorsteps
It will see Serve Robotics team up with Uber Eats to offer short-range, contact-free deliveries in West Hollywood
It will see Serve Robotics team up with Uber Eats to offer short-range, contact-free deliveries in West Hollywood, with customers given a pin number to unlock the robot and collect their dinner before it goes on its way.
In the Santa Monica area, autonomous vehicles built by Motional will also deliver bites to hungry customers.
‘We’re introducing two autonomous delivery programs in Los Angeles,’ Uber said.
‘Serve Robotics’ friendly sidewalk robots offer short-range deliveries with easy handoffs.
‘Motional builds all-electric autonomous vehicle fleets designed to safely navigate city streets.
‘These pilots mark our continued work to bring safe, reliable, and affordable autonomous technology to merchants and consumers everywhere.’
A series of other features were also announced during Uber’s second annual Go/Get 2022 product event livestream.
Customers will be given a pin number to unlock the robot and collect their dinner before it goes on its way
The sidewalk robot concept is one of two autonomous delivery pilot programs being trialled in California
They included a voice-activated Uber Eats, so customers can now order by talking to their phone, as well as the option to avoid queues at certain US sports stadiums by ordering food or drink without a person leaving their seat.
‘We’ve integrated Google Assistant into Uber Eats so you can get your favourite meal, snack, and other necessities simply by using your voice,’ Uber said.
‘Just say “OK Google”, and ask your phone to order a meal from a restaurant on Uber Eats. Voice Ordering will start rolling out globally in English this summer with more languages to come.’
Uber Eats at Stadiums, meanwhile, is available in LA at Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium; in New York at Yankee Stadium; in Washington, D.C. at Capital One Arena; in Houston at Minute Maid Park; in San Jose at PayPal Park; and in Rennes, France at Roazhon Park.
Uber said that many more were to come around the world.
The app even uses precise location information so it can tell where a user is in the stadium, so it won’t send people on a wild goose chase to get a hot dog.
People can also now pre-book rides to and from the airport for holidays, order a party bus or coach through Uber Charter and buy Uber vouchers.
‘Uber Travel lets you reserve rides for each leg of your itinerary in one fell swoop,’ the company said in its announcement.
The Uber Eats ‘sidewalk robot’ is pictured here in an Uber product lunch video
It’s best known for its taxi booking service, but Uber has announced a raft of new features and services for its customers
‘Just connect your Gmail account and we’ll do the rest, organising your hotel, flight, and restaurant reservations all in one place for a stress-free travel experience.’
Uber Travel is available today in the US and in the coming weeks in Canada.
In the UK, customers will be able to book trains, coaches and car rentals from the summer, too.
Uber Charter allows users to book a party bus, passenger van and coach.
With the Vouchers for Events feature, it allows people to cover the cost of rides for their guests at everything from weddings to corporate functions.
All customers have to do is enter their event details, the maximum amount they want to cover, and then share a unique code with their guests.
Uber also said it wanted to make charging easier for its driver, so is adding a Charging Map to the Driver app to show them where the nearest EV chargers are located, what the charging speeds are, and navigation to get there.
It follows last year’s announcement of a partnership with Hertz to make up to 50,000 Teslas available for drivers to rent by 2023.