Uber Eats customers in California and Texas may soon have their food delivered by a driverless delivery pod.
This development comes after Uber agreed to a 10-year contract with the self-driving startup Nuro. According to a press release, deliveries will begin this fall in Mountain View, California, and Houston, Texas, with plans to expand to the greater Bay Area.
Nuro’s self-driving vehicles are designed specifically to transport food and other goods. They don’t contain drivers or passengers despite running on public roads. The pod has a top speed of 45 mph, making it ideal for residential travel but not for highway travel. It can carry up to 500 pounds ( 227kgs) and has enough space for about 24 grocery bags.
According to Uber, if you place an order in an area where the service is available, you’ll see a prompt in the app that says, “Autonomous vehicles may deliver your order.” You can still choose to have your goods transported by a person.
If you choose the driverless option, Uber says you’ll be notified if you’ve been paired with an autonomous vehicle when your order is picked up from the merchant. You’ll use your phone to unlock the vehicle when it arrives with your order. If you left a tip, it will be refunded.
Nuro, which is currently valued at 8.6 billion, was founded in 2016 by two former Google employees – Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu – who worked on the search giant self driving project, Waymo. Nuro has already announced similar delivery deals with companies including FedEx and Domino’s.