Meituan Launches Normal Operation of Drones for Food Delivery in Shanghai

Chinese food delivery and local service company Meituan launched its first normalized route of drones at a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) Base in Jinshan District, Shanghai on December 15. The drones will serve as the first step to Meituan‘s UAV commercial implementation in Shanghai, and become an important supplement to the company’s delivery capacity in the region. The drones will work alongside deliverymen to complete daily distribution work which will help provide better service overall.

(Source: Meituan)

The new route of drones is a continuation of the cooperation signed between Meituan and Jinshan District in July last year. The service content covers operation, R&D tests and commercial exploration of urban low-altitude intelligent distribution. Starting from the UAV base in Shanghai Bay Area High-tech Zone, the project will expand to core regions of Jinshan District, and will gradually establish a “3-km and 15-minute” low-altitude intelligent logistics network based in Shanghai and covering East China.

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When Meituan receives the customer’s order information, the system will immediately inform a deliveryman to pick up the goods from the merchant and send them to the drone departure area. After packing the goods, the drone will send the goods to the community distribution station according to the route planned by the system, and consumers can go to the community distribution station to pick up the goods by scanning the code with their smartphones.

(Source: Meituan)

According to Mao Yinian, head of Meituan‘s drone delivery unit, the drone delivery service will first be opened for coffee shops and other merchants who attach great importance to distribution efficiency.

Mao said, “Take coffee, the favorite food and beverage category of Shanghai citizens, as an example. At present, many coffee shops in Shanghai have doubts about launching take-out services. They are concerned about the efficiency of human distribution, fearing that the logistics will affect the flavor of coffee, and then have a negative impact on brand building. However, after connecting to drone distribution, their cost does not increase, but the average time of delivery decreases. The stable distribution capacity of drones can make every cup of coffee stay fresh even when it is on the way to consumers.”

During flight times, the Meituan drones will remain below 120 meters with their speed as fast as 20m/s. It can deliver goods within 15 minutes after the user places an order, and a special dining box ensures that the food will not leak due to air delivery.

In 2017, Meituan started exploring drone distribution, and devoted itself to building a low-altitude logistics network that covers a 3-km area around it within 15 minutes. At the beginning of this year, Meituan completed the first drone delivery order for users in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province and established an “air route” for urban material transportation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nanshan District of Shenzhen, and distributed emergency materials to residents in quarantine areas.