Your food delivery may show up with nobody driving, starting today

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Starting today, if you order from Uber Eats in Phoenix, Arizona, your order might get assigned to a driverless Waymo vehicle.

Last year, Waymo partnered with Uber and started offering autonomous rides through the Uber app in Phoenix, Waymo’s largest coverage area.

Today Waymo and Uber are expanding on that partnership and offering Uber Eats food delivery with autonomous Waymo vehicles.

The orders will go through the Uber Eats app the same way any order does, but when your order is confirmed you’ll get a prompt stating “autonomous vehicles may deliver your order.” If you don’t want this, you can opt-out and get a human driver instead (you can also set this as a separate toggle in your drop-off options).

If you do get an autonomous vehicle, you’ll have to meet it at the curb to pick up your food. To get into the car, you’ll use your smartphone to gain access to the vehicle’s trunk and get your food out of it. Also, in this case, the tip you selected when you made the order won’t get charged.

So – it’s no good if you can’t get up and head outside, or if you would otherwise have them leave your order at the door. But if you can head out to meet the car, at least you get to save on the tip.

So far, the service only works with “select merchants in Chandler, Tempe and Mesa, including local favorites like Princess Pita, Filiberto’s, and Bosa Donuts” according to Waymo. But if you happen to find one of them, your order just might show up with nobody driving.

Electrek’s Take

This is definitely neat technology-wise, but it also feels a little excessive perhaps. Food delivery is already a pretty big energy-spender, with a whole car clogging up the roads just to deliver one meal to one person. It’s maybe not so bad if there are several meals being delivered by one car, (e.g. a pizza delivery guy with multiple pizzas on a route), but given this system gives access to the whole trunk, that would rely on a lot of trust. So we imagine it will be one meal per car.

That said, at least these cars are electric – unlike the gas-guzzling majority of Uber vehicles out there, which are also often delivering one or only a small number of meals at a time.

So while we think it’s neat and it’s maybe a little more efficient than sending a human in a gas car around to deliver one meal at a time, we hope this doesn’t replace grocery store trips (actually… could Waymo deliver a whole trunk full of a week’s worth of groceries for me? because that I could be into…).

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