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Motional Scales Autonomous Delivery Service; Adds Shake Shack as First National Merchant through Uber Eats

November 08, 2023 Akshay Jaising, VP of Commercialization Los Angeles
A silver Motional IONIQ 5 robotaxi outside a Shake Shack in Santa Monica
Motional's robotaxis are now delivering Shake Shack orders made through the Uber Eats app in Santa Monica


Autonomous vehicles (AVs) provide the ability to offer a whole new range of customer service-friendly options that meet the diverse needs of modern day consumers. Over the last 18 months, Motional and Uber Eats have steadily scaled autonomous deliveries in Santa Monica, paving the way for expansion with a national merchant. 

In May 2022, Motional became the first on-road AV company to partner with Uber Eats and provide curb-to-curb food delivery using our all-electric IONIQ 5 robotaxi. Since then, we’ve made thousands of deliveries and expanded from a single merchant in Santa Monica to nearly two dozen merchants across Santa Monica, Venice, Brentwood, and Westwood. Currently, Motional is the only AV company providing both food delivery services and passenger rides on the Uber network. And over the past 18 months, Motional and Uber Eats have made iterative improvements to deliver a safe, consistent, and intuitive eater experience. 

This experience has set the foundation for Motional’s continued expansion in the food delivery service marketplace. We recently launched autonomous deliveries with Shake Shack, one of the nation’s most popular fast casual restaurants, and are now delivering orders from their Santa Monica location. In addition to Shake Shack’s delicious high-quality food, the brand is known for its hospitality and uplifting guest experience across its 500+ locations around the globe. 

Our experience providing autonomous driving services over the past six years has generated valuable learnings around how consumers feel about AVs. The feedback we receive typically has more to do with the user experience – questions about unlocking the vehicle and retrieving the order, for example – and less to do with the driverless technology itself. For us, this isn’t surprising: the safety of our technology has been evaluated internally, by our partners, and by third party experts. And our vehicles have driven more than 2 million miles without an at-fault accident.

By working directly with the public, Motional has developed a better understanding of the factors that will drive rapid adoption by consumers – and make us a great part of the Shake Shack experience. For example, we know that many merchants are juggling multiple delivery apps and processes, and they need an AV delivery service to feel seamless. They are also used to a driver coming in and grabbing the food order, not having to walk it out to the vehicle themselves. 

On the consumer end, we also know that customers have become used to having their orders brought to them, or at least placed on their doorstep. We’ve taken these learnings and started working with Uber to set clear expectations and improve communication between merchants and customers, resulting in a more intuitive delivery process and an overall better response from customers and merchants. We’ve also learned about opportunities where AVs could help make food delivery more affordable, especially for small orders.

Using AVs for food delivery service is just one way that robotaxis can serve the larger marketplace. Not every restaurant and consumer may be ready for driverless technology, and that’s to be expected. But we find that AVs offer a unique platform that solves areas of friction. Plus, the marketplace likes having options – whether a customer is dining in at Shake Shack, picking-up a to-go order, or receiving a delivery. Options add value to the overall offering and we’re proud to be part of that ecosystem. 

As Motional works with more partners like Uber Eats and Shake Shack, we will continue to unroll our commercialization strategies that build demand for AV technology and help improve delivery services for merchants and customers.