While in Italy everything stops a bit in 6 regions (and this is not necessarily a bad thing, considering the fact that there is an epidemic to be eradicated), at the top customers fear that the coronavirus even bad food deliveries.
For this reason, several companies have announced delivery services through robots. Meituan put its autonomous delivery vehicles on public roads for the first time this week, while JD.com and Ele.me are already sending their robots to coronavirus quarantine areas.
The acceleration in the deployment of delivery robots is part of the broader attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through human-to-human contact, but it is also a full, timely field verification of the enormous technological potential of the delivery sector.
It is the name that the app Meituan Dianping gave its autonomous vehicle delivery initiative of food in Beijing's Shunyi District. This phase may be followed by a launch for similar robot delivery services in other districts in the capital.
The company started testing indoor delivery robots and drones for deliveries last year, but this is the first time that it deploys autonomous delivery vehicles on public roads.
"This project aims to minimize the risk of potential infections caused by human contact and meet the needs of customers at this special time," said Meituan in a note.
According to a company spokesperson, his vehicle can carry up to 100 kilograms of cargo and deliver three to five orders per trip.
Contactless delivery initiatives address recent customer fears of making contact with couriers, which have cast a shadow over the booming food delivery industry in the country.
A sick courier in Shenzhen worked for 14 days before he was diagnosed with the disease, while four staff members of a fast food restaurant in Chongqing were working under infection, according to local media reports.
Although unmanned delivery services existed prior to the outbreak, the outbreak paradoxically "promoted the popularity of the system," according to Yang Xu, senior analyst for the research firm Analysys.
Not just Meituan. The delivery robot system takes hold.
In addition to Meituan, as mentioned, other platforms that had unmanned delivery services also announced the deployment of robots for further deliveries, particularly in quarantine areas.
Beijing-based JD.com announced earlier this month that it will deliver medical supplies to hospitals and groceries to local communities in Wuhan via autonomous vehicles.
“JD autonomous delivery robots can help reduce human-to-human contact. They are the ideal solution for Wuhan last mile delivery at this unique time. They protect both our customers and our employees "Said Qi Kong, head of autonomous driving at JD Logistics, in a post on the company blog.
Kong told the Post that 10 to 20 orders are delivered every day from the 50th hospital in Wuhan, and 70 to XNUMX% of them are delivered in autonomous vehicles.
We only need to send couriers if the orders are too large to fit inside the vehicle, or if there are too many orders
Food delivery service giant Ele.me said it had deployed delivery robots last month to send meals to rooms in a quarantined hotel in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou.
The platform, owned by Alibaba, has been experimenting with drones and robots for food deliveries for several years.
According to Yang has the driverless delivery services can thrive. In fact, in the sector, they reduce labor costs and maximize efficiency.
“But companies will face complex challenges, because real-life situations are complicated. The interactions between people, roads and buildings must be considered. "