Motional Autonomous Car

Photo courtesy Motional

SANTA MONICA -Santa Monica-based Motional, an autonomous vehicle company, will expand into robot food delivery services next year.

In the Dec. 16 announcement, Motional said its all-electric autonomous delivery vehicles will feature a curated set of meal kits from selected restaurants on Uber Eats. The service will launch in early 2022 and is Motional’s first expansion into driverless delivery and Uber’s first on-road delivery partnership with an autonomous vehicle (AV) technology provider.

Motional will use a Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi with in-vehicle modifications in place to enable autonomous deliveries. The company’s local expansion is driven by a $4 billion joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv.

“Today, Motional enters the autonomous delivery market,” said Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s President and CEO. “We’re proud that our first delivery partner is Uber and are eager to begin using our trusted driverless technology to offer efficient and convenient deliveries to customers in California. We’re confident this will be a successful collaboration with Uber and see many long-term opportunities for further deploying Motional’s technology across the Uber platform.”

The partners see autonomous vehicles (AVs) playing an important role in the on-demand delivery ecosystem, with AVs helping to increase access to convenient and affordable deliveries. Motional and Uber look forward to sharing more service details ahead of launch next year.

In a statement the two companies said they see autonomous vehicles playing an important role in the on-demand delivery ecosystem, with AVs helping to increase access to convenient and affordable deliveries.

“We’re excited to partner with Motional to test a new kind of delivery for Uber Eats consumers in 2022,” said Sarfraz Maredia, VP and Head of Uber Eats in the US & Canada. “Our consumers and merchant partners have come to expect convenience, reliability and innovation from Uber, and this collaboration represents a huge opportunity to meet —and exceed— those expectations.”

The company previously announced it would double its 100 person Santa Monica workforce to accommodate the testing of an autonomous taxi service earlier this year.

Motional has had a presence in Santa Monica for over five years and said the area is perfect for the industry as it combines a deep pool of talent with a highly unique driving environment that their systems can benefit from.

Over the years, the company was the first to drive a fully-autonomous vehicle cross-country and had the world’s first robotaxi pilot in Singapore. They currently operate the most established public robotaxi fleet in Las Vegas and will be expanding that service to include pooled rides. They are also on track to launch a fully driverless robotaxi service (with no one behind the wheel) with Lyft in multiple U.S. markets in two years.

This story was published in partnership with Santa Monica Daily Press.