Meituan Dianping Enters Unmaned Delivery, Recruits for 100 Positions

Meituan Dianping is recruiting for unmanned vehicle delivery and UAV delivery. When recruitment is complete, its unmanned delivery department is expected to reach nearly 200 people.

Meituan Dianping’s W project team began hiring employees to fill more than 100 positions in an array of fields including algorithms, systems, machinery, circuits, products, operations and business on January 19. The W project is an unmanned delivery team. It was set up a year ago, and recently renamed to the unmanned delivery department.

Technology will continue to favor artificial intelligence in 2018. Internet giants are expanding into driverless cars and robots. In October, after receiving $4 billion in financing, Meituan Dianping CEO Wang Xing said he would focus on unmanned delivery and artificial intelligence.

In 2018, Meituan Dianping began advertising new openings in its unmanned delivery department. Compared with last year, the recruitment drive is seeking more people and the positions are more systematic.

Among the 100 openings, more than half are senior positions. The recruitment drive is for existing unmanned vehicle delivery and UAV delivery. When recruitment is complete, the unmanned delivery department will reach nearly 200 people.

Meituan Dianping said it entered unmanned delivery because of increasing mass demand for delivery and technical accumulation.

Public data showed that Meituan Take-away, the flagship business of Meituan Dianping, has more than 250 million users in 1,300 Chinese cities. Its maximum daily order exceeded 18 million. Meituan Take-away employs 500,000 delivery men and runs an average delivery time of 28 minutes.

But the growing demand for delivery and decreasing labor pose severe challenges for the existing delivery system, which depends on a low price and high quality. Unmanned delivery is the only way to further enhance the take-away business.

“When Meituan Dianping began to develop artificial intelligence, there was no problem with scenarios, because we already had scenarios to apply AI,” said Wang Huiwen, senior vice president of Meituan Dianping.

Driven by the business scenarios, Meituan Dianping upgraded is delivery business to robot-assisted delivery and established a whole-process delivery system that combines man and machine. Meituan Dianping enhances delivery effiency by integrating existing business, and tries to implement unmanned delivery under particular scenarios.

In fact, Meituan Dianping began laying the foundations for unmanned delivery as early as 2016. After in-depth analysis and exploration of the delivery business for more than a year, Meituan Dianping had a clear strategic direction for unmanned delivery and formed technical teams with experience in automatic driving, mapping, system simulation, deep learning and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In the future, the unmanned delivery team will optimize key areas and links through a cloud dispatching system and analysis of mass delivery data. I can also improve its delivery efficiency while safeguarding security.

Although unmanned delivery has taken shape in the automatic driving industry, there are still many challenges, such as unpredictable scenarios, road conditions and infrastructures. The industry thinks unmanned delivery will gradually enter the application phase in the next two years.

A person in charge of the unmanned delivery department said, on the premise of technical accumulation, unmanned delivery can arrive quicker if we understand the scenes thoroughly and accurately and receive data feedback.

In the process, Meituan Dianping will cooperate with scientific research institutes, system suppliers, property companies and government departments, and jointly promote the unmanned delivery industry.

“Automatic cars and robot are not far off. I believe the take-out delivery robot will appear before the driverless car,” Meituan Dianping CEO Wang said at a forum, “Driven by our mission of ‘Live Better, Eat Better’, I believe that the day will come soon.”

This article originally appeared in Tencent Technology and was translated by Pandaily.