According to reports from CNN, Uber is gearing up to get into the drone delivery game with plans to start a pilot program to offer fast food drone delivery in San Diego, California. This means you could soon be ordering a Big Mac that flies as Uber and McDonald’s linked up to test drone deliveries.
Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected San Diego as one of 10 cities to test commercial drone delivery. The city then partnered with Uber to test it out, and Uber is working with McDonald’s as an early partner for this program. The two companies have been working for months to design special packages to keep your food warm, ice cream cold and everything intact during transit.
Uber says that the project will not only decrease delivery times, but also expand the number of culinary choices available to customers. When a customer orders food, the drone will take the meal to a licensed Uber driver, who will meet the drone at a drop-off location and bring it to the customer’s door. In the future, drones could be instructed to land atop a parked vehicle located near each delivery location through QR code correspondence, the firm said.
Emphasizing that the company’s division focused on revolutionising operations in the skies Luke Fischer, head of flight operations at Uber Elevate says, “We’ve been working closely with the FAA to ensure that we’re meeting requirements and prioritising safety. 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.”
According to Bloomberg, Uber Elevate says delivering food 1.5 miles via drone will take about seven minutes, compared to 21 minutes for the same trip via ground transportation. Pricing for food delivery via drone will likely be consistent with Uber Eats delivery rates.
Additional restaurant partners will be added to the trial later this year, including local restaurant Juniper and Ivy. Uber Elevate plans to unveil its own customized drone this year and claims it could reach up to 70 mph. Kate Fraser, head of policy at Uber Elevate, told Bloomberg it will take at least three years to implement Uber Elevate food delivery in a handful of markets.
According to investment firm Cowen Inc. the food-delivery business is estimated to increase 12% a year, to $76 billion in 2022. Uber already has competition- Google’s Wing already received the first FAA certification for drone delivery, and it plans to begin trials in Virginia soon and Amazon unveiled its new Prime Air delivery drone for home deliveries.
Despite the crowded field, Uber Elevate appears confident of becoming one of the first drone-based food deliveries. IPO, Uber Advanced Technologies Group, which includes Uber Elevate and the company’s self-driving-car unit, spent about $457 million on research and development in 2018.
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