An UberEats, operated by Uber Technologies Inc., branded box sits on a motor scooter in London, U.K. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg In a few years, you may order food from UberEats, and a flying drone may deliver it to your door. The Wall Street Journal reported that Uber plans to launch food-delivery drones by 2021. A job post, which Uber later removed from its website, indicated that the company was looking for an operations manager to handle delivery drones. Uber Technologies Inc. has a ridesharing app that allows drivers, who work as independent contractors, to connect with people who need a need ride. The company also owns UberEats, which lets people deliver food from local restaurants.
Uber Eats, already one of the most popular food delivery apps, wants to elevate the game. As it works now, drivers pick up your food from a restaurant, put it in their car, drive with the goods, and then ring your doorbell with a bag full of dinner. But at the Uber Elevate Asia Pacific Expo in Japan this week, Uber unveiled a new delivery method: the drone. Uber's drone team, known as Uber Elevate, will use what it's learned from its flying car service, known as UberAir, to try to provide faster, cheaper, and more reliable food deliveries. Uber is already talking with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration about UberAir, so Uber's drone project would conceivably fit into those conversations.
If you imagined the skies of California would someday be buzzing with drones carrying tiny vials of pot or edibles for recreational marijuana users, think again because that stoner fantasy was just a pipe dream. California's Bureau of Cannabis Control last week outlined its plans to ban pot delivery by drone, putting the kibosh on any business hoping to make a buck on the concept. On Wednesday, the bureau released an initial study describing proposed emergency regulations for commercial cannabis businesses ahead of Jan. 1, when marijuana sales, with proper retail licensing, will be allowed for recreational use in California. In its study -- Commercial Cannabis Business Licensing Program Regulations -- the bureau is clear: Marijuana must be transported in trailers or commercial vehicles. If the message was lost, the bureau goes a bit further: "Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles or unmanned vehicles."
Rules governing the use of food delivery robots remain to be seen across the US. But major food businesses are investigating the possibilities already. In the latest deal, Yelp Eat24 has begun testing delivery by robot in partnership with Marble in select San Francisco neighborhoods. TechCrunch spied Marble's delivery robots, stickered with a Yelp Eat24 logo, earlier this month. But the companies announced their robot delivery service officially today.
UberEats, ride-hailing company Uber's four-year-old food delivery arm, is a veritable juggernaut. It covers more than 50 percent of the U.S. population, facilitating deliveries for roughly 100,000 restaurants. And globally, it operates in 300 cities and 300 more locations around the globe. Chen Peng, head of data science at UberEats, spoke to a few of UberEats' unique advantages onstage at VentureBeat Summit 2018. "Analytics has played a critical role in driving the growth of the business," he said.