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Hustle Culture

Alibaba Says Delivery Robots Are Great Because They Don’t Smoke on the Job

byDan Robitzski
Aug 25
Getty / Futurism

Seems a little rude!

More Into Vaping

The Chinese tech and e-commerce giant Alibaba recently announced a plan to roll out 1,000 delivery robots throughout the country this year — and it’s taking some jabs at the human delivery workers they’d be replacing.

The delivery bot rollout is meant to better tackle the “last mile problem” of delivery logistics, according to The Register, in which an otherwise smooth process can get messed up by traffic, human error, and other unforeseen problems. Alibaba is automating the process and testing out its robots on college campuses and housing complexes instead of relying on human couriers, with whom the company seems to be pretty fed up.

“Alibaba’s robots will be able to make the trip without deviations or smoke breaks,” reads an Alibaba blog post.

Wrong Turn

Aside from ribbing the workforce that it’s about to try and automate out of a job, Alibaba goes on to make some pretty bold claims about what its delivery robots will be able to accomplish.


“This final leg in a journey that stretches from the manufacturer to the buyer can flummox human couriers,” the blog post reads. “Delivery people can get lost trying to find a flat in a tower block or navigate a large housing estate.”

But the robots, it says, can build up a comprehensive understanding of their surroundings while they scoot along down sidewalks and bike paths. Alibaba claims that the robots can plot the trajectories of people and vehicles and predict their movements five to ten seconds into the future with 99.9999 percent accuracy. That’s an eyebrow-raising, dubious statistic, given how unpredictable both pedestrians and drivers can be, but it does highlight how much faith Alibaba seems to be placing in a robotics-dominated future.

READ MORE: Robots don’t smoke, says Alibaba, and that’s why they deliver parcels so fast [The Register]

More on delivery robots: Demand for Autonomous Delivery Bots Is “Expanding Exponentially”


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