Chinese lifestyle service and food delivery giant Meituan has launched its new-generation self-designed driverless delivery vehicle in Beijing’s Shunyi district, which the company says will deliver stronger capabilities than its predecessors in terms of automatization, carrying capacity and cruising range. The move comes as the Chinese capital rolls out policies to promote business applications of self-driving technology.
The Meituan vehicle is able to react to obstacles in its surroundings to a radius of more than 150 meters, and can cover 80 kilometers on a single charge with a loading capacity of 150 kilograms, the company said in a statement on Monday.
On the same day, the Beijing municipal government issued a document to designate several areas in the city in which qualified companies are allowed to operate their unmanned delivery vehicles in preparation for the future commercialization of the technology.
Meituan started piloting its autonomous logistics service last February, when it deployed a fleet of driverless vehicles to send grocery orders to customers in some parts of Beijing in order to reduce human contact during the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, the company said that it has sent some 35,000 orders to customers from over 20 residential communities in Beijing using autonomous delivery vehicles.
Monday’s announcement comes just a week after Meituan and Tsinghua University set up a joint research center which will focus on the development of technologies including autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.
Domestic e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com also harbor ambitions for autonomous logistics services. In September 2020, Alibaba unveiled an autonomous logistics robot, named Xiaomanlv, which it said is able to plan delivery routes, identify obstacles and predict pedestrians’ intended movements. In 2018, JD.com launched its first-generation logistics drone, codenamed the JDY-800, which can carry up to 840 kilograms of cargo.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (firstname.lastname@example.org)