April 20, 2024
Robot Deliveries

Uber Eats Introduces Robot Deliveries in Tokyo

Uber Eats has launched a new initiative in Tokyo, introducing robot deliveries in a small area of the city starting Wednesday. The US-based food app plans to expand this service across Japan in the future.

With Japan facing increasing labor shortages, the government amended traffic laws last year to permit delivery robots on public streets. Companies like Panasonic are also exploring the use of innovative machines for transportation purposes.

The distinctive Uber Eats robots, equipped with square headlights and three wheels on each side, use sensors to autonomously navigate routes while avoiding pedestrians and obstacles. Operating at speeds of up to 5.4 kilometers per hour and featuring flashing lights, these robots have a human operator on standby as a safety precaution.

Initially, the robot deliveries in Tokyo will have limited coverage, as explained by Uber Eats executive Alvin Oo. Customers currently need to wait outside to receive their orders from the robots, but the company envisions a future where robots can deliver directly to customers’ doors, making it particularly convenient for residents in high-rise buildings in Tokyo.

Alvin Oo also highlighted the potential of robot deliveries in rural areas where there is a significant elderly population and limited availability of drivers. He reassured current delivery drivers that there will always be opportunities for human delivery partners on the platform, even with the integration of robotic delivery services.

While Uber Eats and similar platforms have faced criticism and strikes over labor practices, the company’s collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric and US start-up Cartken for the development of delivery robots represents a step towards innovation in food delivery services.

Initially, the robot deliveries will be limited to selected restaurants in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district. Customers cannot choose robot delivery themselves, but they have the option to accept or decline if selected for them.

In a demonstration, the robot generated curiosity and positive reactions from passersby for its appearance and functionality. One observer, Akemi Hayakawa, described the robot as cute and eye-catching, noting that people willingly made way for the robot on the street.

Given Japan’s aging population and labor challenges, the introduction of robot deliveries by Uber Eats presents a promising solution to fulfill the evolving needs of the delivery industry in the country.

Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research.
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.