The coronavirus has put Chinese delivery drivers on the front line
The coronavirus outbreak has created a severe challenge for many businesses in China, but for online shopping it has led to a huge spike in sales in recent few weeks. Millions of consumers are choosing to order fresh food online so they can cook at home rather than risk trips to shopping centers or restaurants. But the sales surge means delivery workers are also busier and facing a greater risk of exposure to infection as they make deliveries in communities under lockdown.
Fear of contact is boosting China’s robot delivery services
E-commerce companies in China are ramping up their use of robots to deliver orders in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through human-to-human contact. Delivery app Meituan Dianping, which launched a “contactless delivery” initiative across China last month, said this week that it had started using autonomous vehicles to send groceries to customers in Shunyi district in Beijing, and was looking to launch similar robot delivery services in other districts in the capital city. The company began testing indoor delivery robots and drones for deliveries last year, but this is the first time it is deploying autonomous delivery vehicles on public roads, it said in a post on WeChat.
China’s young workers ditch factories for deliveries
China’s factories were the backbone of the country’s economic resurgence in the last four decades. But as the Chinese economy slows and the nation seeks to move away from the production line, more and more China’s young migrant workers are ditching the factories to find easier jobs with “more freedom” in the growing services sector. One of them, Li Tao, who earns a living as a food courier in Guangzhou, said working in China’s massive courier business it was a better option than factory work. ​​​​ “We can earn between 5,000 yuan [$730] and 7,000 yuan [$1,020] a month as couriers but we have more freedom than if we were working as a security guard or in a factory,” said Li, who is from a rur