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Uber Eats partners with Cartken and Mitsubishi Electric to launch autonomous food delivery robots in Tokyo

Uber Eats is gearing up to roll out autonomous food delivery robots on the bustling streets of Tokyo. This marks its first international expansion into robotic food delivery. The initiative, scheduled to begin by the end of March, is the result of a collaboration between Uber Eats, robotics startup Cartken, and Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Electric.

Located in Silicon Valley, Cartken has created delivery robots called Model C. These robots feature artificial intelligence and sophisticated sensors, allowing them to maneuver sidewalks and detect obstacles. Sporting six wheels and capable of carrying up to 27 litres of cargo, these robots can travel at a pedestrian-friendly pace of up to 3.3 miles per hour.

One of the key functionalities of Cartken’s technology is its capability for remote monitoring and guidance of the robots in case they encounter unforeseen obstacles during delivery.

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Customers within the designated delivery zone in Tokyo will be able to order food through the Uber Eats app and choose autonomous robot delivery. The robot will autonomously travel to the restaurant for pickup and then to the customer’s location. Additionally, customers have the option to have their meal left at the door without requiring a hand-off.

Mitsubishi Electric will oversee the operations and training of the delivery robots in Tokyo. Shoji Tanaka, Senior General Manager of Mitsubishi Electric’s Advanced Application Development Center, expressed optimism that the initiative would spur the adoption of robot delivery services in Japan. He highlighted robots as an effective solution to Japan’s persistent logistics labor shortage.

The autonomous delivery program, initially introduced by Uber Eats in Miami in early 2022 in collaboration with Cartken, later expanded to Fairfax, Virginia. The expansion into Tokyo signifies the first deployment of delivery robots beyond the United States.

Qingrong “Gary” Xiao, CEO and co-founder of Cartken, emphasized Tokyo as a logical progression for the company, considering Japan’s historical embrace of robotics and automation. Xiao expressed enthusiasm about collaborating with Uber Eats and Mitsubishi Electric to deliver exceptional delivery experiences to Tokyo residents.

Specifics regarding the Tokyo restaurants joining the autonomous delivery program and the neighborhoods gaining access to the service remain undisclosed. Further details are anticipated to be unveiled closer to the late March launch date.

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