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Delivery riders from food delivery company Photo: AFP

Alibaba-backed unveils new smart helmet tailored for delivery riders, designed to improve safety and efficiency

  • has unveiled a new smart helmet engineered with road safety in mind
  • The helmet comes equipped with sensors and AI voice interaction functions
Chinese food delivery platform last week unveiled a new smart helmet designed for the millions of delivery riders in the country who can frequently be seen dashing through the country’s bustling streets to bring people their food orders to tight deadlines.
The gear, promoted by the company during the World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen last week, is laden with a flurry of software-enabled functions, sensors and patents to ensure road safety for riders, said the company.
According to Alibaba Group Holding-backed, while the helmet looks and feels similar to a standard piece of equipment, it is packed with barometric, pressure and gravity sensors that can monitor a rider’s posture, and automatically reach emergency contacts in the event of an accident.
Thanks to AI-empowered voice interaction capabilities provided by the DAMO Academy, an Alibaba research institute, riders using the helmet can also answer customer calls hands-free and en route to a destination. said it has been testing the gear in Shanghai since the end of last year.

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There are over 10 million full-time and part-time delivery riders in China, a profession that is seen as increasingly dangerous amid an increase in traffic accidents. A research note published by the road safety research centre under the Ministry of Public Security noted traffic accidents involving food delivery riders grew by 80 per cent year on year in 2021, as lockdown-confined Chinese citizens rushed to on-demand platforms for food and fresh produce. still has a pilot scheme for the helmets in place, with the gear provided for free. The company said that upon official launch, the helmet will come at a price, yet to be determined, but will be subsidised. Currently, a normal helmet costs 69 yuan (US$9.7).

Meituan, the largest food delivery platform in China by market share, announced its second generation of smart helmets with similar functionality in April.

The company said at the time it planned to distribute up to 100,000 helmets to its riders for free in Suzhou and Beijing. Corporate filings show that as of the end of 2021, Meituan had over 5 million riders on its platform.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.