Drone-delivered meals come to Shanghai, but they’re dropped off by … a human?

drone delivered meals in shanghai meal delivery by

Drone-delivered meals is now a thing in Shanghai with a new service launching in recent days on the outskirts of the Chinese city.

Hungry folks living and working in Shanghai’s Jinshan Industrial Park can now fire up an app, choose their lunch or dinner, and have it delivered by … a human being.

OK, let us explain.

The drone service isn’t door to door. Instead, ele.me — the Alibaba-owned company operating the service — is using the technology to increase delivery speeds by flying meals along 17 pre-defined routes, bypassing busy roads that would ordinarily ensure your meal arrives late as well as cold. The industrial park covers an area of about 22 square miles ( 58 square km) and ele.me claims it can deliver meals within just 20 minutes of being ordered, the South China Morning Post reports.

It works like this: You use the app to select a meal from one of 100 food outlets in the area. When the meal is ready, a delivery rider collects it and takes it a short distance to the nearest drone station. The drone carries the meal to the drone station nearest to your location. Another delivery rider takes the food to your door.

Ele.me said at a launch event that the drone service will reduce its operating costs by a significant amount compared to regular road-based delivery, adding that it has the potential to boost the income of its delivery personnel by as much as a factor of five.

With a growing number of delivery companies grappling to find a workable drone platform that’s both safe and efficient, ele.me’s solution seems to fit the bill. With regulatory bodies worried about chaos in the skies, flying drones along fixed routes to drone stations seems like a logical approach until an effective drone air traffic control system can be devised, especially for urban areas. Other companies, Airbus among them, are looking at similar setups for package delivery by drone. Another bonus is that the system should prevent the rapid offloading of delivery personnel.

Ele.me, meanwhile, clearly sees technology as vital to its future success. Last year, it unveiled a food-delivery robot for so-called last mile deliveries inside office buildings. Chief operating officer Kang Jia said this week that his company is looking to introduce its second-generation food delivery robots, which will cover more than 500 office buildings in major Chinese cities, later this year.


‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ goes all-in on fan service, and it’s better for it

The ridiculous number of characters and stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate proves Nintendo understands the series is about fan service before competitive fighting, and the game will be better for it.

8 easy ways for you to transfer photos from an Android phone to a PC

If you haven't already, you should back up your photos to a computer. Here's how to transfer photos from an Android phone to a PC using third-party services and a wealth of storage devices.
Movies & TV

MoviePass re-enrolls customers, while Costco offers refunds

MoviePass is reportedly re-enrolling users who had recently canceled the service, giving them an error message when they try to jump ship again. This comes as part of the launch of a new plan from the struggling company.

Spotify vs. Pandora: Which music streaming service is better for you?

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

How to connect a Nintendo Switch controller to your PC

Nintendo's Switch controllers, including the Joy-Cons and the aptly titled Pro Controller, use Bluetooth, which makes them compatible with your PC. Here's how to start using them for PC gaming.
Emerging Tech

Regular Wi-Fi can accurately detect bombs, chemicals, and weapons in bags

Surveillance cameras and bag searches have become commonplace when it comes to security in public venues. But researchers may have found a different way to detect suspicious items: regular Wi-Fi.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Emerging Tech

Science says waste beer could help us live on Mars

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new super-insulating gel, created from beer waste, which could one day be used for building greenhouse-like habitats on Mars.
Emerging Tech

Engineers have made a new type of lithium battery that won’t explode

While statistically rare, the lithium-ion batteries used in mobile devices have been known to burst into flames. Researchers from University of Michigan have been working to change that.
Emerging Tech

Genetically engineered bacteria paint microscopic masterpieces

By engineering E. coli bacteria to respond to light, scientists at the University of Rome have guided it like tiny drones toward patterns that depict Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk’s Boring Company wants to dig a tunnel to Dodger Stadium

Elon Musk's Boring Company wants to build a high-speed transportation tunnel connecting Dodger Stadium to a nearby Metro station. The system would run 150-mph passenger pods between the stadium and a terminus to the west.
Emerging Tech

Watch as a ‘lifeguard drone’ rescues a swimmer struggling at sea

These days, drones are finding a range of roles in a myriad of fields. Lifeguards, for example, are making use of the drone's ability to quickly deploy flotation devices while also offering an eye in the sky to survey the scene.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? Here are the best drones on the market right now

To help you navigate the increasingly large and ever-changing landscape of consumer UAVs, here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now