Delivery service Ele.me announced that it will officially begin using drones to deliver food in Shanghai, Sohu reports. The announcement was made at an event in the city on Tuesday. The service, which is the first in Shanghai, is still in its trial phase. At this point, drones will only be able to operate on 17 designated routes and the delivery area – covering 58 square kilometers – is currently limited to Jinshan Industrial Park, according to Kang Jia, Chief Operating Officer of Ele.me.
Ele.me aims to limit delivery times to just 20 minutes by using drones. But don’t get too excited just yet. The drones won’t actually deliver food to your home or office. Instead of delivering orders directly to your door, the drones will transport food from one distribution center to another. Meaning delivery drivers will have to pick up the drone orders and then deliver them to customers in person.
There are still advantages to the new system. Without a doubt, speed is the most significant attribute of the new service. This was proven during the press conference when an audience member placed an order from the app. A delivery man and a delivery drone were dispatched at the same time. The drone finished the 3.4-kilometer distance within four minutes, while the same route took the delivery driver 12 minutes. Despite the convenience of the new technology, many netizens can’t help but worry about the safety issues. “What will happen if the weather is bad or the drone is out of battery? Will the food fall to my head?” one netizen asked on Netease.
“Our delivery boxes are a secured part of the drones, so the food won’t come down,” Zou Li, project manager at Ele.me, explains to Kankanews. “Besides, we undertake a routine examination before each flight, and regular maintenance will ensure its stability and safety.” “By utilizing unmanned delivery drones, we hope to limit the time of each delivery to 20 minutes. Once the technology is more sophisticated, we plan to extend it across the entire city,” said Kang.