How long does it take for your favourite food delivery app to bring your order to your doorstep? About 30 minutes in the best case scenario, we’re guessing. How about a 5-minute delivery time? Well, that’s the next big thing that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is now promising. “Push a button and get food on your doorstep,” he reportedly told the crowd at the recent Uber Elevate Summit, adding that Uber is already the world’s largest food delivery business.
According to Bloomberg, Uber Technologies Inc. is planning to deliver food by drone in San Diego, USA, as part of a wide-reaching commercial test program approved by the federal government on Wednesday. The US Department of Transportation has selected 10 state, local and tribal governments in partnership with a handful of top companies, including Uber, Alphabet Inc., FedEx Corp., Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc., for the most far-reaching test program to date for burgeoning drone commerce.
Hamburgers via drones was not the only grand plan revealed at the 2nd Annual Uber Elevate Summit, which recently concluded in Los Angeles. According to The Financial Times, the company also set out a detailed plan to fill the skies with thousands of short-range electric aircraft and announced a partnership with NASA, the US aeronautics agency, to model an urban air-traffic control system. As Khosrowshahi put it, “Uber can’t just be about cars. It has to be about mobility”.
For the uninitiated, Uber Elevate is a relatively new product that the company is investing in, which explores the potential of vertical take-off and landing vehicles. On Khosrowshahi’s maiden visit to India in February, he had told the media that “Ultimately, what we want to create is not only anUber on the ground but also one in the sky. With battery technology rapidly improving in terms of size, power and storage, we believe we are now in a position for manufacturers to build vehicles with multiple rotors that make this possible.” Of course, he had added that it would take about five years or so for such vehicles to be available on a pilot basis.
At the very least, the talks about air mobility by the impressive speaker list at the summit and all the data thrown at the attendees helped deflect attention from Uber’s grounded autonomous-car program. The company had suspended all North American tests of its self-driving vehicles in March after one such car hit and killed a woman crossing the street in Arizona.
The report added that according to Khosrowshahi, Uber would resume testing in “the next few months”, once the National Transportation Safety Board completed its investigation.
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