Uber Eats expands its autonomous food delivery service to Japan

After its autonomous food delivery is launched Miami and Fairfax, Virginia ;Uber Eats will soon offer the same robot service in Japan – First outside the US. He is again partnering with a Google alum startup Cartkenwith the help of local compatibility Mitsubishi Electric, bringing a fleet of Model C pavement-moving robots to select areas in Tokyo in March. Uber Eats Japan CEO Shintaro Nakagawa says the autonomous delivery service will solve the local labor shortage while complementing existing human delivery methods of “bicycle, motorcycle, light truck and foot.”

Cartken’s six-wheeled Model C uses six cameras and advanced artificial intelligence models for autonomous driving and obstacle detection, and a remote control mode is available when needed. Under the leadership of Mitsubishi, the robot was modified in Japan to suit local needs. First, its speed is limited by local regulations to 5.4 km/h, or about 3.36 mph, which is significantly slower than the 6 mph it is actually capable of. Cargo capacity has also been reduced from 1.5 cubic feet to about 0.95 cubic feet (27 liters), likely due to additional thermal insulation in the compartment. Uber Eats adds that people’s faces are automatically masked in shots taken by robots for privacy.

While this is Uber Eats’ robotic delivery debut in Japan, Cartken is already there thanks to Mitsubishi. From early 2022, the duo will work with Starbucks, local e-commerce giant Rakuten and supermarket chain Seiyu in parts of Japan. In the US, Cartken also has a partnership with Grubhub to provide an autonomous food delivery service on college campuses, including Ohio State University and Arizona University.

While Uber Eats has yet to share which Tokyo restaurants will use the robot delivery service, it should have no problem finding a partnership, given Cartken’s previous local experience. However, I highly doubt that this couple would risk testing their robot through a crowd of drunks in Shibuya just yet.

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