Xiong’an City is getting a new food delivery service that requires no interaction with humans.
Chinese media is reporting that Baidu will launch a series of self-driving delivery tests in cooperation with Meituan-Dianping, a group-buying service for local food and retail businesses. The first tests will take place in Xiong’an, about 100 kilometres southwest of Beijing.
An insider familiar with the matter said testing was slated to begin on May 1, however Xiong’an is still building the required infrastructure, and so the official announcement will be postponed.
Autonomous vehicles can not only cut labor costs in the food-delivery business, but can also for example reduce security issues for batch deliveries to restricted locations such as construction sites.
Baidu is leading the development of China’s autonomous driving technologies. Last June, the search engine giant introduced its autonomous driving platform Apollo, which is billed as “the Android of the auto industry.” Apollo aims at democratizing autonomous driving with open-source data and code. Last month, Baidu became the first company granted special license plates for autonomous vehicle testing on public roads in Beijing.
Also on Thursday, Baidu released the latest iteration of its Apollo platform, Apollo 2.5, which now supports autonomous driving on geo-fenced highways. Baidu also announced the new Apollo Automotive Cybersecurity Lab, which aims to advance safety in mobility.
Meituan set up a project team on self-driving delivery R&D in 2016. Last year the team was promoted to a business division with a staff of over 200.
Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen