Lifestyle services giant Meituan is testing robot 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 drone 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.