Meituan UAS begins drone delivery to Tsinghua University Shenzhen campus

Even in the case of late delivery, Meituan UAS says the built-in autonomous flight system allows its drones to miss a deadline by only "seconds."

Meituan UAS (美团无人机), the drone arm of food delivery giant Meituan (美团), yesterday launched a commercial flight path on the Shenzhen campus of Tsinghua University — the first route of such kind created specially for a Chinese college.

The route is intended to serve exclusively the needs of faculty and students at the Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School.

The take-off and pick-up point is located in Litian Holiday Plaza, a shopping arcade 2.6km away from the school.

Students are able to place orders on the Meituan app with merchants who have access to the drone-powered takeout service.

It takes roughly six minutes for meals to arrive in a designated drop-off location as the drone lands at a vertiport set aside on the campus.

Even in the case of late delivery, Meituan UAS says the built-in autonomous flight system allows its drones to miss a deadline by only “seconds.”

Tech application to reshape life

Wu Xiaofeng, party chief of Tsinghua’s Shenzhen branch, said the university, which ranks first nationwide in rankings, had established a digital life joint research institute with the Shenzhen-headquartered tech firm in 2021.

Close cooperation has since continued between the two sides in applying cutting-edge technology to reshape life on campus.

“We hope Meituan UAS’s foray into a Chinese college will represent an active attempt at advancing deep industry-academic collaboration,” he added.

Mao Yinian, director of Meituan UAS’s drone business, told media that aside from drone, the internet giant is also making significant inroads in robotics-related fields innovations such as low-speed autonomous delivery vehicle.

Meituan is at the forefront of Shenzhen’s drive to tap what it calls the low-altitude aerial economy.

As of November this year, the company had fulfilled 210,000 delivery orders across 22 flight paths spanning eight business districts in cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai, since commercial drone delivery kicked off in early 2021.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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