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Uber Says It Will Test 5-Minute Food Deliveries by Drone

Grub Street logo Grub Street 5/10/2018 Clint Rainey
a view of a city © Provided by Grub Street

Companies have arranged loads of stunt food deliveries by drone (Domino’s pizza, Chipotle burritos, Slurpees that in theory arrive frozen, etc.), but meals via air are still a widely available option at exactly zero restaurant chains. Now, UberEats — now the world’s largest food-delivery platform — has begun a new trial program in San Diego. The service’s selling point has always been that it’s a speedy way to get lunch or dinner, but orders in this new test service will arrive insanely fast. Anywhere from “five minutes from now to 30 minutes from now,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told attendees at a conference yesterday in Los Angeles.

It’s part of a new “wide-reaching commercial test program” the federal government just approved for a whole phalanx of tech and delivery giants (Uber, Alphabet, Intel, FedEx, and Qualcomm, too) to conduct in several states. The mind-boggling “five minutes” wait time is what Khosrowshahi specifically estimates it being for food delivered via drone (30 minutes applies to orders brought via human courier, which will still need to occur during this test), and he describes the format as essentially “[p]ush a button, and get food on your doorstep.”

Khosrowshahi adds that UberEats’ growth has been explosive in its two-and-a-half-year history, but it’d be foolish to expect this part of the company to slow down soon. “Uber can’t just be about cars,” he explains. “It has to be about mobility,” before adding, with almost no context: “It’s my personal belief that a key to solving urban mobility is flying burgers, in any city. We need flying burgers.”

You can listen to the full interview about the San Diego program and Khosrowshahi’s flying-burger fantasy here:

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