Driverless tech firm Motional is partnering with Uber Technologies Inc on autonomous deliveries for Uber customers, starting in Santa Monica in early 2022. Motional’s all-electric vehicles will deliver a curated set of meal kits from select restaurants on Uber Eats. The partnership will see Motional’s first expansion into driverless delivery and Uber’s first on-road delivery partnership with an autonomous vehicle (AV) technology provider.
Motional will use its next-generation autonomous vehicle, an all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi, with in-vehicle modifications in place to enable autonomous deliveries. The robotaxi has more than 30 sensors – a combination of cameras, radars and lidar – that provide robust 360° perception, high-resolution images and ultra-long-range detection of objects for safe autonomous operation in diverse driving environments.
This will be the first time Motional’s SAE Level 4 vehicles have been used for delivery applications, and signals the company’s evolution to a dual-purpose product strategy.
Announcing the partnership, Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s president and CEO, said, “Today, Motional enters the autonomous delivery market. We’re proud that our first delivery partner is Uber and are eager to begin using our trusted driverless technology to offer efficient and convenient deliveries to customers in California. We’re confident this will be a successful collaboration with Uber and see many long-term opportunities for further deploying Motional’s technology across the Uber platform.”
“We’re excited to partner with Motional to test a new kind of delivery for Uber Eats consumers in 2022,” said Sarfraz Maredia, VP and head of Uber Eats in the US & Canada. “Our consumers and merchant partners have come to expect convenience, reliability and innovation from Uber, and this collaboration represents a huge opportunity to meet – and exceed – those expectations.”
Headquartered in Boston, Motional was formed in 2020 as a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, a global industrial technology leader in advanced safety, electrification and vehicle connectivity. It claims to operate the world’s most-established public robotaxi fleet, having conducted over 100,000 public rides.
Uber Eats leverages Uber’s technology and logistics expertise to partner with 780,000 merchants in 6,000+ cities globally while keeping average delivery time under 30 minutes.
The partners see autonomous vehicles (AVs) playing an important role in the on-demand delivery ecosystem, with AVs helping to increase access to convenient and affordable deliveries. Motional and Uber will share more service details ahead of launch next year.