Serve Robotics builds and tests an autonomous delivery robot capable of fulfilling orders over short distances.
Uber established the robotics delivery arm of Postmates as its own company.
Postmates X was a division of Postmates, the food delivery rival Uber acquired last year for $ 2.65 billion. The new company, dubbed Serve Robotics, will continue to develop its autonomous delivery robot that travels on trails to deliver orders.
Uber will retain a stake in Serve while the newly independent company has raised a fundraiser led by Neo, the founders of Postmates and several of Uber’s backers. No figures have been released.
Serve will be led by Ali Kashani, who previously led Postmates X.
“While self-driving cars do away with the driver, robotic delivery eliminates the car itself and makes deliveries sustainable and accessible to everyone,” Kashani said.
“Over the next two decades, new mobility robots will enter all aspects of our lives – first the movement of food, then everything in between.”
Serve’s robot has been tested in Los Angeles where it makes short-haul deliveries that can be completed in 40 minutes. It has been in testing since 2018 but has intensified during the pandemic, according to the company, as demand for contactless delivery has increased.
The spin-out is the latest example of Uber abandoning some of its business activities and the associated costs. Over the past year, it sold its self-driving car research unit, moved its e-bike division to Lime, and sold its forwarding business in Europe.
The cost-cutting measures are part of Uber’s efforts to focus on delivering food, which is poised to turn a profit, and reviving its ridesharing business, which has taken a hit during lockdowns.
With Serve operating independently but Uber holding a stake, the company retains access to all new developments in autonomous delivery at no such cost. Once Serve Robotics launches on a large scale, Uber Eats will likely be its first user.
“We are excited about the potential of Serve robots to help our partner restaurants grow their business and find new, convenient, safe and reliable ways to reach customers,” added Stéphane Ficaja, Uber Eats General Manager for the United States. United and Canada.