Chinese lifestyle service and food delivery giant Meituan plans to trial a drone-enabled delivery network in Shanghai, expanding the use of its autonomous logistics services.
The network, located in a demonstration zone in the city’s Jinshan district, will be supported by ground facilities like landing spots and battery swap stations, as well as a cloud-based dispatch platform to ensure each drone can send an order to its destination in 15 minutes in a radius of 3 kilometers, Meituan said in an announcement on Thursday.
The move comes as Chinese e-commerce and logistics giants like Alibaba and JD.com are racing to roll out unmanned robots to enhance efficiency and reduce costs.
The system is expected to be used in various scenarios including residential communities, shopping malls and office buildings, said Mao Yinian, head of Meituan’s drone delivery unit, adding that human couriers are still needed across the whole delivery process.
Meituan has also been investing in unmanned delivery vehicles. In April, it launched its self-designed driverless vehicle capable of reacting to obstacles in its surroundings to a radius of more than 150 meters and covering 80 kilometers on a single charge with a loading capacity of 150 kilograms.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (firstname.lastname@example.org) and editor Heather Mowbray (email@example.com)