Chinese tech giants turn to robot delivery workers

With the push of a button and scan of a receipt, self-driving robots are ready to roam the streets of Beijing.

Chinese tech giants like Alibaba and are set to add over a thousand robots to their ranks over the next year, as the demand for contactless delivery surges.

And as labor costs rise, and the costs of automation go down,'s chief scientist Kong Qi says the robots benefit their delivery workers, too.

"Our delivery men seem happy when they use the self-driving vehicles. For example, in the city of Changshu, we had a delivery guy using three self-driving vehicles to help him deliver and collect parcels, and he had to do more customer service on the side, so his salary increased proportionately by quite a bit."

Kong says the global health crisis accelerated's shift to automated deliveries, which researchers at the University of Michigan say could cut delivery costs by up to 40%.

But with just a few compartments for delivery, some customers say the robots still aren't as efficient as their human colleagues.

"I think that when it comes to making deliveries to offices, its level of efficiency is low. People are ordering a large amount of food and goods, but as you can see with this robot, its delivery capacity is quite small.", Alibaba and fellow e-commerce giant Meituan expect to be operating over 2,000 delivery robots by the end of next year.

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