As drones become more prevalent and less expensive, it is no surprise that major retailers and delivery services are beginning to use the lightweight aerial devices to make small deliveries like books, DVDs, and groceries. Now, though, it seems McDonald's has got into the act, and are testing out some drone deliveries via Uber Elevate in San Diego. With only about a month until the city will be overrun by Comic Con traffic, one has to wonder whether the fast food giant is planning on taking advantage of one of San Diego's biggest cultural events to profit off this new agreement -- but that seems pretty unlikely given that they are still waiting on FAA approval of the plan.
Of course, those of us who have been to San Diego during Comic Con know that traffic can be a nightmare -- but then again, with a wide variety of promotional events going on, including rooftop parties and giant displays promoting movies, TV shows, comics, and more, one has to wonder whether dozens of small, flying objects would make the city easier or more difficult to navigate in mid-July than Uber Eats already does. The plan is not to deliver to customers' doors, but to centralize delivery by taking orders to a designated location where Uber's couriers can then deliver them by hand.
Uber Elevate is the "flight arm" of the transportation and delivery service Uber, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. The paper says that while the program will begin with Uber partnering with McDonald's, the plan is to expand out to other fast food chains later in the year, presumably once any potential kinks in the system are worked out.
The hope for the program is to cut down delivery wait times in high-traffic areas. Near San Diego, it can take 20 minutes to get a mile and a half. With Uber Elevate they are hoping to cut that to 7. The drones can go up to 70 miles and hour and will cost the same as standard Uber Eats delivery (at least at first). That can range from $1 up to $8.50 in San Diego.