July 27 (NBD) -- The launch of Autonomous Delivery Open Platform (ADOP) by China's largest on-demand service provider Meituan this week sparked heated discussions among industry insiders in Silicon Valley.
This is a great news, especially for startups dedicating to artificial intelligence and robot development. More importantly, the platform will be able to gather a lot of data. Based on Meituan's ADOP, startups could garner more data to improve the intellectual learning capability of their products, Tony Ng, vice president of venture capital firm Mandra Capital, told NBD in Silicon Valley.
The newly launched ADOP harnesses the strengths of companies in the software, network service, component, and unmanned vehicle, and real estate domains.
Bear Robotics' co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Li Fangwei said to NBD that delivery will definitely be fully automatic in the future, and an open delivery platform can help robot-based delivery companies employ technologies in specific scenarios.
The future will be exciting. Just imagine, a variety of low-speed autonomous vehicles bring meals or parcels to your residential building and indoor robots then put them in your hands. This is absolutely a huge revolution of urban logistics, Li added.
In the eyes of Xia Huaxia, head of autonomous delivery at Meituan, China's unmanned delivery market will be bigger than the U.S. as the former is now the world's biggest food delivery market, which means vast opportunities to the unmanned delivery industry.
In addition to Meituan, retailer JD.com and e-commerce giant Alibaba have put similar delivery services into trial run.
Tony Ng said this niche industry has huge potentials though blockchain startups grab the spotlight this year.
A former senior engineer with Google echoed Ng's viewpoint, and he just joined a Silicon Valley-based outdoor unmanned delivery startup.
Despite strong interest and buoyant attitude of investors, unmanned deliveries still face many technical and administrative obstacles, Roy Kong, managing partner of SVC Angel Fund, said to NBD.
According to Kong, unmanned delivery differs from smart logistics, and it will take a long time to see wide application of the fascinating service.