Robots climb stairs as they begin first food deliveries in China and Japan - firm says they 'express rich emotions' with their eyes
- Pilot programs in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Tokyo deliver food to offices and dorms
- Humans deliver the food to office lobbies and robots go the 'last mile'
- Agile wheeled robots can navigate elevators and even stars
China and Japan have unleashed a fleet of delivery robots for a test program in Bejing and Shenzhen.
Food delivery giant Meituan-Dianping has partnered with 10 hotels and office buildings to test a new mobile delivery robot to carry food deliveries to students and office workers at their desks or dorm rooms.
Unlike other delivery bots, these variants are designed to navigate both elevators and stairs to bring the order directly to your door -- and they do so with a 'smile"
However, the program still relies on a human delivery person to bring the food to the office building lobby or carry it onto the university campus, but once there the robot's take over.
Meituan-Dianping has targeted offices and universities in part because their layouts are easier to navigate than bustling city centers.
The robots can navigate both elevators and stairs.
According to the head of Meituan's autonomous delivery department, who spoke at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in China earlier this year, the program is meant to help the company deal with rapidly growing demand for its delivery services, CNBC reported.
By 2025, Meituan expects to deliver three times as much food as it does currently, and it expects to hire and additional 30,000 to 35,000 human delivery workers to work alongside the robots.
In Japan, companies are turning to robots to make up for a workforce that's estimated to have shrunk by 20% by 2040.
The Japanese tech company ZMP Inc. has developed a food delivery robot called CarriRo Deli, a 'last-mile delivery service' that's being tested in apartment complexes.
In the United States, Domino's Pizza was among the first to get into the automated food delivery market when it began using small robotic trucks to deliver pizzas in a pilot program in Texas.
In the UK, both Tesco and Co-Op have started an experimental program to make deliveries using small robots equipped with GPS, which can also be piloted by a human in a control center.
WHAT OTHER COMPANIES USE DELIVERY ROBOTS?
Amazon is testing a robotic delivery vehicle in California. Called Scout, the robot is the size of a small cooler.
Pepsi has developed a delivery robot called Robby that's currently used to delivery snacks to students at the University of Pacific campus in Stockton.
Postmates has built a delivery bot called Lidar, which can carry 50 pounds as far as 30 miles on a single battery charge.
Kiwi has its own growing fleet of delivery bots rolling across a dozen college campuses, including UC Berkeley, Stanford, and NYU.
Starship robots deliver takeout food orders to office workers in London.