Autonomous vehicle technology company Motional have entered into a new partnership to launch autonomous food deliveries for Uber customers in Santa Monica, California.

Under the initiative, Motional’s electric vehicles (EVs) will start delivering specific meal kits from select restaurants on Uber Eats early next year.

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The collaboration represents Uber’s first partnership with an autonomous vehicle fleet provider.

Uber Eats US and Canada vice-president and head Sarfraz Maredia said: “We’re excited to partner with Motional to test a new kind of delivery for Uber Eats consumers in 2022.

“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.”

Motional will deploy its Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi to deliver food orders from restaurants.

The company explained that it has made some modifications to the vehicles to enable autonomous deliveries. It said that this will be the first time that its SAE level four vehicles will be used to make food deliveries.

Motional president and CEO Karl Iagnemma said: “Today, Motional enters the autonomous delivery market.

“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.”

Both Uber and Motional expect that the autonomous vehicles (AVs) will play a key role in the on-demand delivery sector.

Earlier this year, Domino’s and self-driving delivery company Nuro began autonomous pizza delivery in Houston.