Uber has announced that it is developing a new drone it hopes to use for Uber Eats deliveries someday. Eric Allison, the boss of Uber Elevate, talked about the new drone in Detroit yesterday at the Forbes Under 30 Summit . And while the mock-up design looks pretty cool, with rotating wings and six rotors, the details released so far raise some red flags.
According to Forbes (emphasis added):  The new drone design can carry dinner for up to two people and has six rotors, the company says. The battery is designed for eight minutes, including loading and unloading and it can only make relatively short moves. The drone has a return trip range of 1
The battery lasts only eight minutes, but does it have a total flight time of 18 minutes? How should it work? Your guess is as good as ours, since Uber did not respond to an email early Tuesday.
[ Update 07:15 ET: In an email this morning, Uber now says Forbes is not correct about battery life, but did not give an estimate to Gizmodo . Uber told Uber Forbes that the drone is "d designed to perform a maximum eight-minute delivery leg including loading and unloading," which Forbes author confused for battery life.]
But even if you succeed by squaring that circle, it seems that Uber Eats doesn't knock on delivering food directly to your door at any time. The company has previously said it will deliver food via drone to a central staging area and that Uber drivers in cars will pick them up and eventually deliver the package at the door. Meanwhile, companies such as Alphabet, under its Wing brand, have conducted food and medicine success supply tests in Australia and will soon begin similar tests in Virginia . Unlike Uber, Wing delivers its goods directly to the customer's home.
According to Forbes, Uber Eats doesn't even plan to test this drone design until next summer in San Diego. But if Uber's history of unsuccessful promises is any indication, this thing is probably just vaporware – a futuristic product that is not actually released in the real world. All we have from Uber is a computer rendering of the drone, and we've seen many data views from this company before, with absolutely no follow-up.
Remember back in February 2017 when we heard that Uber's flying cars were only two years away from ? The company has had to revise this estimate again and again, but it has not stopped publishing promotional videos and flashy computer graphics and promised that air taxi is just over the horizon.
Remember back in May 2018 when Uber released the ridiculous design for an autonomous flight taxi concept for passenger flight that we called the 21st Century Spruce Goose? Again, we got lots of splashy computer animations but we haven't seen any planes in the real world yet.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS News back in 2018 that his airplanes would soon slip around the country with up to 200 miles in the hour. But Uber can't even get its autonomous vehicles on the ground to function properly. Uber's self-driving car even killed a cyclist back in March 2018 .
Maybe Uber really needs to keep people hoping for something shiny and futuristic that's just around the corner. Because, as it seems, Uber loses billions of dollars each year. In fact, Uber Eats loses an estimated $ 3.36 for every order it fulfills. And analysts insist that it will continue to lose a lot of money until at least 2024 .
Delivery drones are an exciting field for companies hoping to get packages and food from point A to point B as soon as possible. But no matter how you slice it, Uber appears to be far behind its rivals. And even though Uber has become very good at making futuristic computer animations, it will have to deliver a real drone at some point if it wants to succeed.
Unless, of course, Uber plans to follow the flying car's playbook that has worked for over a century. Continue to tell the public that your product is only two years away from . Forever.