Uber Eats, the global platform for on-demand food delivery, has announced that it will begin testing the first-ever commercial application of drone food delivery in high-density urban areas.
Last year, Uber and the City of San Diego were granted the winning bid by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of the Integration Pilot Program (IPP) to test the commercial application of food delivery by drone.
Uber will be conducting its first customer tests of delivering food by drone to showcase what the future of food delivery will look like.
The new service will be powered by Elevate Cloud Systems, a new and proprietary airspace management system that tracks and guides all drone flights to take off, fly and land independently.
According to the company, by combining Uber Elevate’s technology with Uber Eats’ network and logistical expertise, drone food delivery will expand customers’ culinary options and decrease delivery times.
After a restaurant loads a meal into a drone and the drone takes off from a restaurant, Elevate Cloud Systems will notify a nearby Uber Eats delivery partner to meet the drone at the drop-off location, to ensure orders are picked up and hand delivered to the customer.
In the future, Uber Elevate looks to leverage Uber’s rides network to enable the drones to land safely and securely atop parked vehicles located near each delivery location through QR code correspondence. The last-mile leg of delivery will be completed by the Uber Eats delivery partner hand-delivering the order. The learnings generated by drone food delivery will also contribute to the foundation of Uber Elevate’s future aerial ridesharing network.
“We’ve been working closely with the FAA to ensure that we’re meeting requirements and prioritizing safety,” said Luke Fischer, Head of Flight Operations at Uber Elevate. “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.”
The initial phase of testing in San Diego was done with McDonald’s, and will be expanded to include additional Uber Eats restaurant partners later this year.