At this year’s Uber Elevate Summit in May, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi discussed the possibility of a drone-based food delivery service by UberEats. Now, it looks like a job posting has hinted that the company is looking to launch the service by 2021.
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. Although Uber depends on humans to do the deliveries and driving today, it is developing multiple ways to automate these processes and reduce or eliminate the need for people. It appears that drones that deliver food are part of its plans.
A job post, which is not visible on Uber’s website anymore, mentioned that the company needed an operations manager for its food-delivery drone program UberExpress. The Wall Street Journal shared that the company wanted to have functional drones by next year and planned to launch them in multiple markets by 2021. After removing the job listing, the company stated that the program was still in its early days.
Although the company may not want to discuss its food-delivery drone timeline, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is open about Uber’s interests in drones. At the Uber Elevate Summit in May, Khosrowshahi mentioned he believed flying burgers would solve urban mobility. He also pointed out that the company was involved in a commercial drone-testing program.
Many large companies have been testing the waters of drone delivery services: Amazon made its first drone delivery via Prime Air in 2016, and Alphabet ramped up their drone delivery service last year. Regulations regarding drone operations are very complicated and stringent, however, so there are a lot of legal hurdles companies must overcome before we start seeing widespread drones-as-a-service take off. As such, getting UberExpress off the ground in three years feels like quite the undertaking.
Lately, Uber has been making it clear that it has ambitions beyond ridesharing. Last week, the company announced that it is planning to expand into the trucking industry, and has teased the development of a flying taxi service. It’s also been testing the waters on-demand staffing and electric scooter rental as well. In an announcement from September, Khosrowshahi detailed a plan outlining a new focus on “sustainable mobility” that emphasized Uber’s dedication to expanding the other sectors of its business.
Despite Uber’s ever-widening portfolio, and its previous discussion on drone-based food delivery, UberExpress is far from a certainty. The company clearly sees a future where drones play a key role, but what that looks like is purely speculation right now.