Apr 28, 2015 · 2 minutes

Uber has brought its food delivery service to parts of Manhattan, and it's promising to deliver lunches within 10 minutes of the order being placed.

The service was previously available in Los Angeles and Barcelona. It's currently limited to a small portion of Manhattan, but Uber says in the announcement that it plans to expand the service to other areas "soon."

Uber's promise to deliver food within 10 minutes of being ordered seems impossible -- and it would be, if the company were delivering food the same way it's always been delivered. Wired reports that it's taking a different tack:

The trick is, rather than waiting for customers to place an order, waiting for the restaurant to make the order, and then battling traffic to deliver the order—a process that can easily take 45 minutes—Uber drivers pick up batches of orders from participating restaurants in temperature controlled bags. Then they drive around as they always do, waiting to make a delivery to the nearest willing customer.
This means UberEats might not be as convenient as other services if you're a picky eater who likes to customize menu items. (Guilty.) But if you're willing to eat whatever a restaurant makes, the 10 minute delivery time's awfully tempting.

But it's not the only company that has recently become more interested in food delivery. Companies like Sidecar offer a similar model by mixing ride-hailing with deliveries, and Pando's David Holmes used Postmates to get a lukewarm burrito from Chipotle delivered to him last week, simply because he could.

This isn't even the only delivery service launching this week. As Eater, the Vox Media site devoted to all things foodie, notes in a report on today's launch:

Uber is slated to face stiff competition in the delivery space, especially in New York City. Maple — the delivery start-up with backing from chef David Chang — launches today and plans to bring customers "restaurant quality meals" at a similar price point to Uber. Plus, Arcade — a new delivery app — is also partnering with popular NYC restaurants. Like Uber, Arcade plans to offer diners just one dish per day from a menu that will change daily.
Yet Uber is the largest company attempting to combine a ride-hailing service with various delivery tools. It's experimented with everything from ice cream to air conditioners to Christmas trees. While this service is less exciting -- a lunch delivery tool that only works in parts of Manhattan? -- it's another step towards Uber using its dominance of the ride-hailing market to break into deliveries.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]