Motional, the Boston-based autonomous vehicle joint venture between Hyundai and auto supplier Aptiv has launched an autonomous delivery service for Uber Eats customers in Santa Monica, California, fulfilling a partnership first announced in December 2021.
While Motional has extensive experience moving passengers, this is the company’s first time transporting commercial goods. To prepare, its teams have spent months studying touchpoints between the restaurant and end-customer, and conducted extensive testing in the Los Angeles area.
Under the pilot programme participating merchants will receive a notification when Motional’s Hyundai IONIQ 5-based all-electric autonomous vehicles arrives. An employee will meet the vehicle at the designated pick-up location and place the order in a specially-designed compartment in the backseat. Upon arrival at the drop-off location, the customer will receive an alert, unlock the vehicle door via the Uber Eats app, and collect their order from the backseat.
The service will allow Motional and Uber to study the integration of their technologies, consumer demand, the user interactions with the AV, and additional autonomy features needed to enable autonomous deliveries. These factors, says Motional, are critical for a seamless customer experience and will also help inform broader applications of Motional’s AV fleet. Uber sees AVs playing a long-term role on its platform, across a variety of use cases, and plans to be an accelerator in bringing this innovative technology to its customers.
“Autonomous delivery signifies the next phase of Motional’s commercial roadmap,” said Abe Ghabra, Motional’s Chief Operating Officer. “This service will provide the learnings and experience needed to make Motional the trusted AV provider for on-demand delivery networks. We’re proud to partner with Uber on this important milestone and begin introducing Uber Eats customers to autonomous technology.”
“At Uber, we’re always looking for ways to use new technology to help consumers go anywhere and get anything,” said Noah Zych, Global GM for Uber’s Autonomous Mobility and Delivery business. “We’re thrilled to begin piloting with Motional in California and are eager to see how their promising autonomous technology will begin to change how people and goods move throughout the world for the better.”