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Uber Eats goes driverless with Nuro partnership

Autonomous delivery to begin this fall in Texas, California

Nuro's R2 delivery robot will begin making deliveries for Uber Eats this fall (Photo: Uber)

If you live in Houston or Mountain View, California, you may not need to tip on your next food delivery order.

That’s because Uber Eats (NYSE: UBER) on Thursday announced a multiyear partnership with Nuro, one of the country’s leading autonomous vehicle manufacturers. Starting this fall, customers in Texas and California can get their food delivered by driverless robot and skip the tips.

The companies plan to expand the service to the San Francisco Bay Area after getting their driverless delivery network up and running. The agreement marks the second autonomous delivery partnership for Uber Eats, which launched a similar service with Motional in Santa Monica, California, this past May.

Read: Want a New York pizza in LA? Uber Eats delivers — for free

Read: Nuro unveils 3rd-gen autonomous delivery vehicle, expands partnership with Kroger

“Nuro and Uber share a vision in which technology can make everyday life just a little bit easier,” said Noah Zych, global head of autonomous mobility and delivery at Uber. “Nuro’s distinctive autonomous vehicles are a great match for the Uber platform, and this partnership will bring a compelling combination of innovation alongside the convenience, affordability and reliability our customers and merchants have come to expect.”

Nuro’s autonomous R2 vehicles are compact and can carry almost 500 pounds of food, groceries and other goods like prescriptions. Its two storage compartments are reconfigurable and include heating and cooling capabilities, allowing the same vehicle to deliver a variety of goods.

Nuro’s driverless R2 delivery vehicle parked at the curb. (Photo: Uber)

After an order is received and the vehicle is loaded, it drives itself to the customer’s residence, where it parks itself on the curb. The customer can then unlock the storage compartment by entering a code into a PIN pad.

The company, based in Mountain View, was the first to get a fully autonomous delivery network up and running in Arizona, California and Texas. It’s also the first company to be granted an autonomous deployment permit by the California Department of Motor Vehicles and remains one of three companies to hold that certification.

Watch: How do we shift public acceptance of autonomous vehicles?

“Our partnership with Uber underscores Nuro’s track record of partnering with the world’s leading brands to make autonomous deliveries a seamless experience,” said Cosimo Leipold, head of partnerships at Nuro. “With our unique autonomous delivery vehicles and Uber’s phenomenal scale and reach, we can expand food delivery options from your favorite local mom-and-pop restaurants all the way to nationwide chains.”

Nuro’s partners read like a who’s who of the largest names in food and grocery, including Walmart, Kroger, Domino’s, Chipotle and 7-Eleven. This past June, the firm also expanded into parcel delivery through a partnership with FedEx, starting in the Houston metro area.

But an Uber Eats partnership could bring Nuro’s service to the next level. Now the company will have access to an entire marketplace of restaurants and grocers, as well as a built-in customer base of millions of users.

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Jack Daleo

Jack is a staff writer for FreightWaves and Modern Shipper covering topics like last mile delivery and e-commerce fulfillment. He studied at Northwestern University, majoring in journalism with a certificate in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Jack has written for Backpacker Magazine and enjoys travel, the outdoors, and all things basketball.