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Uber Eats' delivery drone is a VTOL speedster

It's capable of vertical take-off and landing.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
October 29, 2019
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An unmanned aerial system capable of vertical take-off and landing might transport your Uber Eats orders in the future. The ride-hailing company, which has been expanding its repertoire recently, has unveiled a new design for its food delivery drone at the Forbes 30 under 30 Summit. Uber's drone design has rotating wings with six rotors "for increased speed and efficiency" and can carry meals for up to two people. Its battery can only last for around eight minutes, including loading and unloading, and it only has a range of 12 miles for a roundtrip delivery -- but that's OK, because Uber expects to use it for just a part of the process.

The drone won't be landing on your yard with your food in tow. After a restaurant loads the machine with your order, it'll fly to a drop-off point where an Uber driver will be taking over the delivery process. Uber's Elevate Cloud Systems, its airspace management system, will be tracking the drone and notifying the driver when the order is ready and where to pick it up. So, you'll still be dealing with a delivery personnel -- you may just get your meals faster than before.

Back in 2018, company chief Dara Khosrowshahi talked about the possibility of starting a drone-based food delivery service by 2021. Uber might beat that timeline if all goes well, though: it's planning to start drone deliveries in San Diego, where is has already made a few test deliveries in partnership with McDonald's, in the summer of 2020.

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