The Chinese internet firm, Meituan, has been piloting its drone delivery service in the seven neighborhoods within the metro area of Shenzhen for the last couple of years, so far flying 19,000 meals to 8,000 customers, and the company has applied to expand the program to the rest of the city next year. However, it’s hard to understand the commercial viability of delivering a small takeout order by air. Typically, once the customer uses an app to place an order, Meituan dispatches a worker to pick up the meal and carry it to a roof launchpad where an inspector confirms all is well and sends the drone on its way. The drone drops off the package in a designated roadside kiosk installed by Meituan, where the customer again uses the app to retrieve the package.

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