Some blessed day, you’ll no longer have to worry about getting run over by overworked but determined food delivery guys on scooters, though you will have to start keeping a watchful eye on the skies.
This week, Chinese food delivery giant Ele.me was given permission to begin using drones to deliver food to customers in Shanghai. Well, more precisely, in a single suburban district of Shanghai, and not exactly to people’s doorsteps either.
When ordering from around 100 different restaurants operating inside the Jinshan Industrial Park, customers living in the area now have the option to choose to have their food delivered via drone—at no extra charge.
But don’t expect to see drones landing on your balcony just yet. Instead, Ele.me has set up a total of 17 aerial delivery routes covering the 58 square kilometer area of the park in the far-south of Shanghai. Each of these routes has two landing zones where food can be either loaded on or dropped off.
After an order is prepared, an Ele.me delivery guy brings the food to one of the zones and puts it on a drone.
He then flies the drone by using an app on his phone, delivering the food to the station nearest to the hungry customer.
When the drone arrives, another Ele.me delivery guy picks up the food and takes it the traditional way to its final destination. So, in the end, it’s a bit disappointing that we won’t be able to simply reach our arms out of the window and grab some takeout.
You can watch how it works below, on YouTube:
Or on Tencent Video:
According to Ele.me, this aerial delivery process means that humans only have to cover about 15% of the route. The company also boasts that all deliveries within the area can be made in just 20 minutes or less.
While you might think that this will just grow into another instance of robots taking yet more jobs from humans, Ele.me claims that because the drone deliveries would substantially lower operating costs, their introduction could end up causing delivery workers’ wages to quintuple.
Of course, while this system may work fine out in the sprawling Jinshan Industrial Park, it’s harder to see drone deliveries becoming a really viable option in downtown Shanghai, considering the multitudes of problems they would no doubt create. Still, we hopefully look forward to the day where we will never again have to leave our apartment or interact with another human being.
Alex Tang contributed to this story