Uber really wants to deliver your burger (or burrito, or whatever) by drone, and is accelerating its plans to make that happen. According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, Uber recently ran a job posting seeking a candidate who could get delivery drones up and running as early as next year, and commercially operational in numerous cities by 2021.
That job listing, titled “Flight Standards and Training,” has since been deleted, but it illustrates how serious Uber is about the food delivery space and its own ambitions within it.
The idea of drone delivery isn’t new, and Uber is among a number of companies including Alphabet (née Google) and Amazon looking to use drones for delivery. Amazon was recently issued a patent for in-flight recharging of drones, and even IBM has a patent for coffee delivery by drone based on your mood.
If successful, having its own fleet of drones could help push Uber’s food delivery business, Uber Eats, ahead of the pack in the fiercely competitive restaurant delivery sector. Uber Eats has been growing like a weed and is reportedly at a $6 billion sales run rate. But it faces competition from incumbents like GrubHub, which recently acquired Tapingo to snag college student customers, as well as upstarts like DoorDash, which has raised more than $780 million this year alone to expand its delivery operations (which probably will include drones).
Uber’s ambitions may run headlong into reality, however. Rules and regulations around drone deliveries still need to be worked out by the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as state and city governments. But as The Journal points out, Uber is eyeing a potential IPO next year that could value the company at $120 billion. Being early with drone deployment to boost its already successful Uber Eats division could help a positive narrative around its public offering.
And, of course, there is the question of whether people will want food delivered by drone, or towns will want fleets of drones constantly buzzing overhead.