Your next takeout order could be delivered by drone in just a few months. Uber is performing drone delivery test trials in San Diego this summer, pending approval from the FAA.
The drone will not deliver food to customers’ doors during these preliminary trials. Instead, the drone will arrive at a designated safe landing zone where an Uber courier will retrieve your order and complete the delivery. Uber Elevate, the team handling drone delivery, intends to use this method to reduce the chance of noise pollution, collisions, devices and packages falling midair, and other safety concerns. Delivery boxes are crafted with carefully selected packaging materials that keep food warm throughout the trip.
Uber appears confident that the technology will become the new norm. According to data from previous company tests with McDonald’s, drones are three times as fast as other modes of transportation. Drones can travel 1.5 miles in seven minutes. With a driver or cyclist, such a trip takes about 21 minutes on average.
According to Eric Allison, Uber’s head of aerial projects, the company has invested in this technology in large part because of the growing popularity of Uber Eats. Allison believes drone delivery will give Uber Eats the edge over its competition, with “selection, quality, and efficiency” drastically improving thanks to the advent of drones. Uber analysts predict that within the next ten years, fast food restaurants will have completely remodeled their kitchens to better suit the needs of drone delivery.
Not far behind, Google has already been performing drone deliveries in Finland and Australia through its offshoot Project Wing. FedEx is developing a food delivery robot, and intends to partner with Pizza Hut, Walmart, and Walgreens in the endeavor.
Ever looking forward, Uber Elevate is also in the process of designing flying taxi technology. Test flights are tentatively planned for 2020 with an anticipated commercial launch in 2023.