The wait for Jetsons-style food delivery in San Diego is almost over. Uber Eats announced this week their newest meal-carrying drone is expected to launch into San Diego airspace for deliveries in summer 2020.
Eric Allison, the head of Uber Elevate, the company's aerial transportation division, made the announcement during this week's Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit, Michigan, while unveiling their latest drone design.
Equipped with rotating wings and affixed with six rotors, the drone is capable of carrying a meal for two in its body, the company said.
Uber plans to use the drone for three-legged deliveries -- a trip to the restaurant, a trip to a designated staging location near the customer and a trip back to its initial launch area. Uber expects each leg, up to six miles, to take eight minutes, including loading and unloading.
Staging locations will be set up in designated areas and could even be the roof of an Uber Eats driver's car, the company said. The driver will still be used to deliver the meal to the customer, typically about a mile-long trip from wherever the staging location is.
The drone can fly in 30 mile-per-hour winds and will not fly above 400 feet to comply with Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regulations.
While the Uber Elevate drone is expected to launch next summer, meal delivery-by-drone could come to the city even sooner. A spokesperson for Uber said Uber Eats will first launch the drone delivery platform using their partner drone companies.
Uber started testing drone delivery in San Diego from a McDonald's near San Diego State University last year, thanks to the city's selection for a FAA unmanned aircraft pilot program.
The program allows the city to partner with private sector companies like Uber to develop drone technology. Within the city, companies can expedite FAA approval for airspace authorizations and reduces the need for waivers, allowing for speedier growth in the sector.
San Diego, one of only two cities selected to participate in the program, has also partnered with the Chula Vista Police Department for their first responder drone program and with UPS, Matternet and UCSD Health on a medical delivery project, according to the city.