Meituan Unveils Driverless Food Delivery Platform and Multiple Autonomous Vehicles

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Ordering a drink or meal at 2 a.m. could be possible in the future, as Meituan unveiled on July 25 more details of its driverless food delivery vehicles.

A new autonomous car and a drone for food delivery were made public yesterday. The new concept car adopts L4 level autonomous driving technology and uses multi-sensor fusion schemes such as laser radar, ultrasonic wave and camera in order to autonomously drive at a low-speed on urban roads.

Meituan autonomous car for food delivery.
Meituan autonomous car for food delivery. Image Source: Meituan weibo.

Previously, Meituan had released an autonomous delivery vehicle named Xiaodai, meaning Little Bag.

The company also unveiled a new open platform providing driverless food delivery service. The platform is currently at the experimental stage and will start operations next year.

Meituan drone for food delivery.
Meituan drone for food delivery. Image Source: Meituan weibo.

Partners of the platform also showed up at the launch event with their driverless delivery vehicles in display. These vehicles cover delivering scenarios such as inside of hotels, restaurants and hospitals.

“For a long time in the future, food will be delivered by the combination of human labor and autonomous vehicles,” said Wang Huiwen, Meituan’s co-founder, at the press conference.

Meituan autonomous car for food delivery.
Meituan autonomous car for food delivery. Image Source: Meituan weibo.

Wang showcased at the event the entire process of ordering a coffee using Meituan’s new platform empowered by driverless technology.

The vehicles can complement human deliveries and can transport food to users late at night, he said, which will reduce costs and enhance efficiency for the company as well.

Meituan autonomous car for food delivery.
Meituan autonomous car for food delivery. Image Source: Meituan weibo.

Technological challenges also exist in the development of driverless food delivery, said Wang. He added that the current technology is unable to deal with a large number of orders, such as 21 million a day, on Meituan’s platforms.

The company is also working with restaurants and property developers to remove barriers for a wide-scale use of driverless food delivery.

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