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Meituan Eyes Robot-Enabled Deliveries with $14 Million Investment in PuduTech

By Ding Yi / Jul 02, 2020 02:50 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: Visual China

Photo: Visual China

The use of robots for “contactless” meal and drug deliveries in some Chinese hospitals during the Covid-19 outbreak has not only surprised the general public, but also attracted the attention of investors betting on a future when machines can take on many jobs previously done by humans.

Recently, Shenzhen-based indoor delivery robot maker PuduTech received an investment of more than 100 million yuan ($14 million) from Meituan Dianping, a lifestyle service and food delivery giant in China.

PuduTech CEO Zhang Tao said that the fresh capital, which the startup raised in its series B funding round, will be used to develop new products, expand its overseas presence and boost sales, according to a company statement Wednesday.

Founded in 2016, PuduTech has rolled out five delivery robot products, with its first mass produced model, named “PuduBot”, already “working” in restaurants, hotels, hospitals and office buildings, the company said.

The investment also mirrors Meituan’s ambitions in the nascent unmanned delivery market. In February, Meituan deployed a fleet of autonomous vehicles to send grocery orders to customers in Beijing’s Shunyi district in an effort to curb the coronavirus’ spread, this came several months after it tested deliveries by indoor delivery robots and drones.

Meituan’s rival Ele.me also has a similar unmanned delivery plan. Last year, the Alibaba-owned food delivery app obtained approval from Shanghai authorities to launch drone-enabled food delivery services in the city’s Jinshan Development Park in a bid to reduce operating costs.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: XAG Shows Off Airbus-Backed Food Delivery Drone at Lip-Smacking Flight Demonstration


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