Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Alibaba is testing a delivery robot with a revolutionary pair of eyes

China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba, is testing the world’s first driverless vehicle equipped with solid-state lidar. The road-going delivery robot is being tested by Cainiao, an Alibaba logistics subsidiary using technology developed by another Chinese company, RoboSense.

Special delivery: Plenty of delivery robots exist already, but they typically navigate using cameras and radar, which are much cheaper. A system equipped with laser ranging can see the world in greater detail and should therefore be able to get around with fewer bumps and bruises.

Cheaper vision: RoboSense’s system uses microelectromechanical (MEMS) mirrors to guide the system’s laser beams. More generally, by driving down the cost of lidar sensors—typically one of the most expensive parts of a self-driving car—solid-state lidar could make the cars much more accessible.

China driving: The effort highlights how ambitiously both big companies and startups are pursuing driverless technology. It also shows how ambitious Alibaba is becoming in both artificial intelligence and robotics—in case you needed any reminders.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

The viral AI avatar app Lensa undressed me—without my consent

My avatars were cartoonishly pornified, while my male colleagues got to be astronauts, explorers, and inventors.

Roomba testers feel misled after intimate images ended up on Facebook

An MIT Technology Review investigation recently revealed how images of a minor and a tester on the toilet ended up on social media. iRobot said it had consent to collect this kind of data from inside homes—but participants say otherwise.

How to spot AI-generated text

The internet is increasingly awash with text written by AI software. We need new tools to detect it.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.