Meituan tests delivery robots in Beijing and Shenzhen

Lifestyle services giant Meituan is testing food delivery in Beijing and Shenzhen, as the company seeks to reduce operational costs, the South China Morning Post reported.

Why it matters: As labor demands increase, Meituan has been testing automated service robots in a bid to support growth and increase efficiency while controlling costs. The company currently has more than 600,000 delivery people and handles in excess of 25 million orders a day.

  • Meituan forecasts that its delivery service will grow by 200% by 2025.

“We have done the calculation. If a delivery robot’s work life can last three years, the cost [of the robot] will not be higher than the labor cost.”

—Xia Huaxia, chief scientist of Meituan, to SCMP

Details: The company is testing indoor robots in 10 hotels and office buildings, which have already delivered thousands of orders, Xia said.

  • Meituan aims to cut indoor delivery times by five to seven minutes per order.
  • The company is also testing outdoor automated delivery, with a robot that can navigate gated communities and avoid obstacles.
  • Both robots are being developed by Meituan.
  • The company also plans to expand its delivery network within the next five years, hoping to service users in a five-kilometer range within 10 minutes.

Context: Meituan first set up its unmanned delivery team in 2016 and launched its autonomous delivery platform in Beijing last year.

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