Meituan UAS (美团无人机), the commercial drone arm of food delivery giant Meituan, today announced its tie-up with KFC, marking yet another step of the firm’s journey toward commercializing its technologies.
Following an agreement with KFC, which is the first Western fast food chain to collaborate with Meituan, Meituan UAS will supply its drones to deliver takeaway meals for two KFC stores in downtown Shenzhen, where the startup is headquartered.
The two stores are located near Zhonghang Tianyi, a residential neighborhood and in Poly Culture Square, a shopping mall.
In an official WeChat post, Meituan UAS said users who find themselves in shopping precincts such as HBC Huilong Center, Horoy Tianjun and Shenzhen Talent Park can order on smartphone to have KFC meals delivered to them by drones.
Within “just minutes” of the drones’ takeoff, they will land at the nearest drop-off point — usually a vertiport perched atop a storage bin — with food still warm inside the containers.
According to a report by IT Home, a tech media outlet, Meituan UAS now employs its fourth-generation, hexacopter drone to perform commercial delivery tasks.
This small-sized aircraft has a load capacity of 2.5kg and can deliver to within a 10km radius when fully loaded. Its flies at a top speed of 83kph.
Enlarge the service network
Meituan UAS looks to expand its drone delivery service to universities and residential communities in the future as more outlets and merchants make themselves available to the drone-powered delivery option.
cnrobopedia reported earlier that the firm had begun aerial food delivery to the Shenzhen campus of Tsinghua University in mid-December, launching a bid to enlarge its service network to cover more customers.
The drone delivery business has been gaining clout within Meituan’s sprawling business empire.
Wang Xing, Meituan’s founder, chairman and CEO, demanded in an internal letter seen by Chinese media today that from now on, the head of the drone business will report directly to him, as part of a new organizational overhaul.
Mao Yinian is concurrently the CEO of Meituan UAS and vice president of Meituan, the largest local services provider by market cap.