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Uber and Nuro Announce 10-year Partnership for Autonomous Food Delivery
Back in the before-fore times, when taking an Uber was a regular occurrence, I would often ask the drivers if they did Uber Eats. Almost always the drivers vehemently shook their heads and said “no.” According to them, it was too much hassle for not enough money and they preferred driving people over Big Macs.
Well, the decision over whether to haul Happy Meals got a little more moot today as Uber announced a ten-year partnership with Nuro that will have Uber Eats using Nuro’s pod-like self-driving vehicles to make meal deliveries.
According to the press announcement:
Uber Eats consumers will be able to order meals and goods delivered by Nuro’s zero-occupant autonomous delivery vehicles, which run on public roads and are built specifically to carry food and other goods. The partnership will kick off this fall with deliveries in Houston, TX and Mountain View, CA. Uber and Nuro plan to expand the service to the greater Bay Area.
Here are some things worth pointing out about this deal:
Uber has a deal with Serve Robotics to do sidewalk delivery in LA. Uber previously owned, and then spun out Serve. As I pointed out before, this spin out allowed the rideshare company to pick the best autonomy providers from each market, and not just be tied to its own internal tech. So it’s not reliant on one partner to scale self-driving delivery operations.
The larger size of Nuro’s pods means this isn’t just about Mickey D’s, the two will be able to expand quickly into groceries as well.
Texas remains a frontrunner in the U.S. in the autonomous delivery space.
But I wanted another opinion, so I reached out to Jonah Bliss, who co-runs the excellent Curbivore to get his take. Here’s what he emailed me today:
The stakes are only going to get higher for PDD and autonomous delivery players, as each firm looks to lock in major delivery networks as partners. One thing that's interesting is what isn't in this announcement: exclusivity. While this is certainly a coup for Nuro, it doesn't sound like this means Uber has ruled out working with other firms, including Serve, which they spun out of Postmates in early 2021. Also impressive is the 10 year term of this partnership, which I think speaks to the strength of Nuro's multi-billion dollar war chest. Clearly, the market thinks they're going to be one of the bigger players as the industry matures.
As Bliss points out, ten years is a looooong time in tech circles. A lot can happen in that time. One thing that won’t change though, is people wanting food delivered.
Thanks for reading!