Uber Eats Japan has launched self-driving robot delivery services in Tokyo as part of a new initiative to improve service efficiency given the country’s persistent labour shortage.

Two stores in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi neighbourhood — Tonkatsu Aoki and Benihana Annex — already use the robots, The Japan Times has reported.  

The company intends to expand their use in more regions. On weekdays, they are utilised for deliveries from 10am until 5pm.

When an order is placed through Uber Eats, Cartken’s autonomous robot, Model C, travels to the designated store to collect it and delivers it to the customer’s address.

Customers unlock their orders using a key within the app.

Japan is the second country in the world where Uber Eats uses robots for food delivery. It has used them in the US since 2022.

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The venture is the result of a collaboration between Uber Eats, Mitsubishi and robotics company Cartken, established in February 2024.

Cartken’s Model C robot is equipped with cutting-edge computer vision and AI and can carry up to 27 litres of cargo at a walking speed of up to 3.3 miles per hour.

Remote monitoring capabilities ensure smooth operation when unexpected obstacles arise. Mitsubishi Electric is tasked with overseeing the operational aspects of the service.

Mitsubishi electric advanced application development senior general manager Shoji Tanaka said: “We hope that this newly announced initiative will serve as a catalyst for the spread of robot delivery services in Japan.”

He described robots as an “effective countermeasure” to Japan’s ongoing logistics labour shortage.

In April 2023, Uber Eats and Cartken expanded their partnership to Fairfax, Virginia, US, following a successful collaboration in Miami’s Mosaic district in December 2022 in which AI-powered sidewalk robots delivered food orders.