Uber Eats' Robot Delivery Service Is Officially Expanding In Virginia

Uber Eats has announced that it will be expanding its robotic food delivery services to select restaurants in Fairfax, Virginia. According to a press release (via Business Wire), this will be an expansion of the tech brand's partnership with robotics firm Cartken after the two previously joined forces for a pilot of the robotic delivery services in Miami, Florida. "We're pleased with the positive consumer response in Miami and are confident that Fairfax is the next best city to expand our partnership," an Uber Eats spokesperson told Restaurant Dive.

According to CNN, the robots utilized in Miami were equipped with multiple sensors to help them navigate sidewalks and street crossings without collisions, software to help them find routes with the fewest obstacles, and six wheels to help them handle the terrain. The bots have a carrying capacity of 1.5 cubic feet or approximately two grocery bags. Consumers in the pilot program were said to be notified when their food arrived, met the robots on the sidewalk outside their homes, and unlocked the carrying compartment using their smartphones. The same Cartken robots will be handling the deliveries in Fairfax as well.

Robots will handle some deliveries in the city's Mosaic District

According to Restaurant Dive, this robotic delivery program will only serve select merchants in the city's Mosaic District — featuring more than 40 restaurants — which is owned and operated by retail real estate company, Edens. Restaurants like Our Mom Eugenia, Pupatella, and Rasa have already been confirmed to be taking part in this program which is scheduled to operate through April 2024 but is open for a multi-year extension. Cartken previously partnered with Grubhub to bring a similar program to select college campuses.

Uber Eats seems to be highly invested in making automated food delivery a major part of the company's future and is partnering with multiple robotics and autonomous operations firms in similar pilot programs. The company also recently partnered with Serve Robotics in Los Angeles to operate an all-electric fleet of automated vehicles. This fleet will be focused on short-range deliveries while another partnership will explore the possibility of increasing that range. Uber Eats teamed with Motional to test a fleet of all-electric vehicles to operate in the Santa Monica region as well. Restaurant Dive points out that these efforts seem aimed at making delivery more cost-efficient for service providers and restaurants alike.