Robocars still far away, drone-flying couriers much closer

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Neolix’s delivery bot delivering KFC in Shanghai.
Neolix’s delivery bot delivering KFC in Shanghai.

Beijing started testing self-driving delivery bots from three companies — JD.com, Meituan and Neolix — on Tuesday.

For now, the bots, which are basically self-driving vending machines, trundle on their delivery rounds only on designated public roads in the capital city’s tech suburb, Yizhuang.

All the bots are monitored by human controllers. This type of technology has been proven for over a decade on giant trucks in open-cast mines in Australia and Chile, and already delivers KFC in select suburbs in Shanghai, but human drivers and even vendors pushing carts don’t have to worry about robots taking their job for many years — if ever.

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