Uber will begin testing drone delivery of food to customers in San Diego for its Uber Eats service, executives announced this morning at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, D.C. It follows the FAA’s selection of Uber and the city of San Diego last year to participate in the Integration Pilot Program to test commercial food delivery in high-density urban areas.
Elevate Cloud Systems, Uber’s proprietary airspace management system, will track and guide all drone flights to take off, fly, and land independently. An Uber Eats delivery partner will meet the drone to complete the delivery. Later, Uber hopes to leverage its ground ridesharing program and land its drones atop vehicles using a QR code to complete the last leg of delivery.
“We’ve been working closely with the FAA to ensure that we’re meeting requirements and prioritizing safety,” Uber Elevate head of flight operations Luke Fischer said. “From there, our goal is to expand Uber Eats drone delivery so we can provide more options to more people at the tap of a button.”
Initial testing involved delivery of food from McDonald’s. It will be expanded to additional Uber Eats restaurants, including San Diego fine-dining restaurant favorite Juniper and Ivy. Uber Eats currently operates in about 520 cities in more than 20 countries.