Uber imagines five-minute food deliveries with hamburger-toting drones
Uber has made no secret of its plans for an airborne version of its transport service, and it seems it wants to send its food delivery service along for the ride. At the Uber Elevate conference last week, the company revealed that it is kicking off a test program that could one day bring items to a customer via drone in as little as five minutes.
Drone delivery services that fly food directly to a customer's doorstep is an idea that has generated a lot of buzz and some promising advances in recent years. Alphabet (formerly Google) delivery drones have already been used to carry burritos to customers in Australian and US trials, and Domino's is trialing drone-delivered pizza in New Zealand.
Now Uber is set to kick off trials of its own as part of a federally approved test program designed to explore and advance the commercial applications for unmanned aircraft. That program includes 10 pilot projects to take place around the US, with the data gathered to inform new rules around the safe integration of drones into national airspace.
Among the selected locations is the Californian city of San Diego, with the pilot there to center on food deliveries, border protection – given its proximity to Mexico – and interoperability of smart cities and autonomous vehicles. And this is where Uber's drones will go to work, taking part in indoor tests featuring drone landings stations and ports.
The program is slated to take place over two and a half years, with the lessons learned here and in the other pilot projects helping the US Federal Aviation Administration develop regulations for fully fledged commercial drone services.
These could change the game according to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who, according to Fortune, says that people could expect meal delivery in as little as five minutes if it is flown in by drone, with hamburgers one of the items mentioned.
"Push a button and get food on your doorstep," he said.