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By Anniek Bao / Oct 14, 2020 06:01 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese food delivery app Meituan-Dianping is taking its online retailing business to a level where “no one has been.”

The Tencent-backed company debuted its first “artificial intelligence shop”, dubbed MAI shop, in the Shougang business pilot zone on the outskirt of Beijing on Tuesday, saying the concept marks a first of its kind in the retailing realm

The program works by creating small geographic zones where goods from individual MAI shops can be ordered via QR codes or using Meituan’s app anywhere within the zone. Once orders are placed, automated guided vehicles (AGV) that work throughout the zone collect the products from a nearby warehouse, and deliver them to the customers.

The company claims the whole process, which is going through an 8-day pilot program, takes an average of 17 minutes.

“The AI- driven robot delivery is an answer to the decreased labour force in the sector”, the company said in a statement, adding that human riders will be freed to work as safety supervisors for the AGVs, maintenance technicians or to stock factories.

The Shougang pilot zone is dedicated to advancing special technologies for the Beijing’s Winter Olympics in 2022. Meituan says it expects MAI shop will provide retail business to people visiting the city during the Olympics.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (

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