Uber Eats Working With Waymo to Get Rid of Pesky Delivery Drivers

Mike Powers

Not content with having depressed wages in the transportation industry, Uber is teaming up with Waymo to eliminate food delivery drivers entirely. The two companies are ramping up a collaboration begun last year that involves driverless delivery, CNBC reported Wednesday.

Uber Eats launched the autonomous food delivery service in the Phoenix metropolitan area Wednesday. Food orders will start via the app, then Waymo’s automated vehicles will complete deliveries, and yes, you will have to go outside to get your food from the car. Fortunately, you won’t be asked for a tip for the robot car’s hard work.

An Uber spokesperson told CNBC that the number of restaurants that will be eligible for autonomous deliveries is expanding, as is the geographical area where the service is available. Uber previously tried similar efforts in other cities but this is the first one involving Alphabet’s Waymo.

If you’re a delivery driver, you officially have permission to freak out about this.

When companies like Uber originally launched “gig work” a little over a decade ago, there was consternation that the tech industry was using the guise of “innovation” to degrade industries that previously enjoyed certain labor protections. Uber claimed it was just giving workers the flexibility and the freedom to work independently, but now we know that “gig work” was always just a transitory phase in Silicon Valley’s bigger plan to replace traditional forms of human labor with fully automated, worker-less production systems. Indeed, once they can get a robot to make a halfway-decent meal, companies like Uber will have an employment-free monopoly on food production and delivery.

From the corporation’s point of view, that means no more pesky union drivers, no more need to shell out wages and benefits, and no need to continue arguing with state governments over whether it’s employing “employees” or “contractors,” since there won’t be any.

That said, even if and when that unfortunate scenario does unfold, it seems likely there will still be humans around. As the internet recently learned, “automation” is actually just a hundred poorly paid people from India wrapped in a trench coat. That said, those precarious workers, themselves, are in the process of being replaced by the very software they’re training. The point of data labeling is to usher in AI that is actually autonomous. Thus the valiant C-suite effort to get company head count down to zero will continue.

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