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Food Delivery Drones Take Flight in China

If you live in Shanghai, the next time you order takeout just look up at the sky. Food delivery drones will start flying this summer thanks to Ele.me, an online meal company owned by Alibaba. After placing an order through its app, Ele.me will use a drone to fly the meal over to you in 20 minutes or less.

Photo Credit: Ele.me

The service will only be available for folks living and working in or near Shanghai’s Jinshan Industrial Park. The drone delivery is not door-to-door. Ele.me will instead establish pick-up and drop-off stations. There will be 17 routes used by Ele.me drones. Service personnel will go to a station to pick-up meals before delivering them to customers.

The company’s goal is to help food businesses in the area (there are 100 restaurants) beat traffic and reach customers faster. After all, who wants cold pizza for lunch?

Ele.me representatives state that delivery drones will lower operating costs and help couriers make up to five times more income. The company fully embraces technology and has a track record of sourcing new ways to fuse innovation with food service. Last year, Ele.me unveiled meal delivery robots for deliveries inside more than 500 office buildings throughout China.

Photo Credit: Ele.me

Although there is no major city or zone in the U.S. where takeout drones have become standardized, the federal government has given Uber approval to test food delivery drones in San Diego. The ultimate goal for Uber Eats is to make aerial food delivery complete within five minutes. Earlier this month at Los Angeles annual Uber Elevate Summit, CEO Dara Khosrowshahia explained a key motivation: “We need flying burgers.” 

THAT’S DOPE is a story series tracking innovations in tech and science. Subscribe here. Got a news tip? Let me know via contact.

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