Uber is accelerating the launch of Uber Eats drone food delivery service, which is expected to be piloted in San Diego in 2020. Today, Uber unveiled the drone’s latest design with an “innovative rotating six-rotor design” that smoothes the transition between vertical take-off and forward flight.
Rotating wings are common in flying car prototypes, but less in drones. Uber explains that the rotating six-rotor design, which allows for smooth take-off and landing, and by rotating to the forward position (pictured above), improves “the speed and efficiency of the drone’s cruise flight.”
The rotary wing design is a bit like the aerial prototype designed by Mark Moore, a NASA veteran and VTOL expert. But delivery drones and Moore-designed air taxis are part of Uber Elevate, an ambitious company that aims to push ride and food delivery services into the air.
Uber said the drone could handle two takeaways, adding that it had passed a “critical design review” and was expected to test it by the end of the year. Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration gave Uber the green light to test drone delivery in San Diego.
It is understood the food delivery drone was targeted at the takeaway service within eight minutes, including loading and unloading. To comply with existing U.S. drone flight regulations, these takeaway drones will have a cruising altitude of less than 400 feet. Without a load delivery, the effective flight distance is 18 miles, while in the case of a food delivery, the flight distance is 12 miles. The drone has a top flight speed of 30 mph.