The article Meituan Dianping launches autonomous food delivery system was written by Masha Borak for TechNode

Imagine getting your lunchbox delivered by an autonomous robot straight to your office. In China, it’s already happening. O2O giant Meituan Dianping has launched the Meituan Autonomous Delivery (MAD) Platform featuring driverless delivery vehicles that shuttle meals from restaurants to consumers.

The new MAD Platform was officially launched in Beijing, July 25th with Meituan Dianping’s co-founder and Senior Vice President Wang Huiwen introducing its new concept of intelligent delivery.

Meituan is already the largest on-demand food delivery player in China, according to the company. It handles 21 million orders daily in 2800 cities and counties. The company filed for an IPO in Hong Kong seeking to raise more than $4 billion at a valuation of $60 billion at the end of June.

The MAD Platform which is the “brain” of the new intelligent delivery project has been in trial since March. What’s more, the platform is open meaning that third-party AV operators will be able to use the system. Meituan is working with partners such as Uditech, Segway-GX, iDriverPlus, and Roadstar which have developed autonomous delivery vehicles for the platform.

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As Meituan’s autonomous deliver general manager and scientist Xia Huaxia said, the company hopes to work with enterprises, schools, and governments in the future.

In the majority of cases, however, the system is not completely autonomous since it relies on good old-fashioned delivery drivers to move meals across greater distances.

The MAD Platform is being tested in three destinations, including Joy City Mall in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, Lenovo’s offices in Shenzhen, and Songjiang university town in Shanghai, Meituan’s autonomous expert Xia explained.

For each destination, the model is slightly different. In Joy City Mall, Meituan’s autonomous vehicles pick up orders from restaurants and bring them to a collection point where the delivery drivers then take them over. In Lenovo’s office, the scenario is the opposite: the vehicles collect orders and distribute them across offices (yes, it uses the elevator by itself).

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Finally, the third scenario represents a full loop: the meals are delivered directly from merchants to consumers by the AVs. The Songjiang project is now delivering 1000 meal a day giving us a glimpse of what to what extent would students go not to leave their rooms.

The article Meituan Dianping launches autonomous food delivery system first appeared on TechNode

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