China / Innovation

Baidu O2O app for food delivery is using AI, just like AlphaGo

By Liu Wei ( Updated: 2016-03-15 17:03

Baidu O2O app for food delivery is using AI, just like AlphaGo

A Baidu deliveryman carries a meal container on his way to a customer. [Photo/CFP]

Internet giant Baidu claims the company has made great strides in artificial intelligence and is applying it to the company's O2O food delivery service, reported on Tuesday.

It was a response to a joke among netizens that Google's technology can beat a champion at a board game while Baidu's technology just concerns food delivery, making fun of its O2O app.

But it may be a little quick to say Baidu's food app is low-tech.

Three elements affect the time that food ordered from restaurant kitchens reach the clients' door: how long it takes couriers to arrive at the restaurant, how long they take from the restaurant to the client's door and how long it takes for kitchens to prepare food.

According to Baidu, it's been impossible to calculate how long kitchens will take to get food ready due to different cooks and volumes of clients in restaurants.

If cooks get food ready too fast, the food may go off by the time it's delivered; if couriers arrive at the diner too early, they have to wait and lose other orders.

That's where artificial intelligence steps in.

It is used in the automatic system to precisely calculate every step.

The system will tell couriers how long it will take for the food to be ready and offer a route plan for them.

Baidu said all data have been collected such as the time cost of every order and every meal from every restaurant. AI can estimate the time a meal is ready based on the data.

Wu Enda, Baidu's specialist in AI, said: "That's what we do to use cutting edge technology to solve the daily ordinary problems of consumers."

Baidu said the model has been used in their food delivery logistics system for people to have a better experience when ordering food.

A member of staff at Baidu made an interesting comment on AI's different functions: "It may need some discussion to say which one is more valuable, to ask AI to win a board game? Or help people have warm, fresher meals?"

Google's AlphaGo grabbed worldwide attention when it won 4-1 in a five-match series against human world Go champion Lee Sedol of South Korea.