Parkour, drone and robot: 4 interesting ways to get your food delivered

Clockwise from top left: Grubhub's Delivery X: Delivery Without Limits (DX) service; 7-Eleven's first commercial drone delivery; Mumbai's dabbawallas loading lunch boxes on a train and a robot by Starship Technologies makes a food delivery.
Clockwise from top left: Grubhub's Delivery X: Delivery Without Limits (DX) service; 7-Eleven's first commercial drone delivery; Mumbai's dabbawallas loading lunch boxes on a train and a robot by Starship Technologies makes a food delivery. PHOTOS: DELIVERYX.SEAMLESS.COM, FLIRTEY, AFP, JOSH DANIEL VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

UberEats, the food delivery arm of ride-hailing service Uber, started recruiting "walkers" in January this year to deliver food on foot in Singapore's Central Business District.

One of its several hundred walkers is 70-year-old Madam Teo Yoke Lan, who manages six to 12 trips a day.

Here's a look at four other interesting ways to deliver food.

1. By extreme athlete

Grubhub, the leading online and mobile food ordering firm in the United States, launched Delivery X: Delivery Without Limits (DX) in March this year in its bid to eliminate traffic and other urban barriers for its food delivery service to dense metro areas.

The service features a team of highly skilled extreme sports athletes, including freerunning and parkour specialists, BMX riders and skateborders.

These athletes are aided by cutting-edge navigation technology - for instance, skateborders get push-by-push directions, parkour jumpers receive instant updates on the vertical/horizontal distances between obstacles and BMX riders get suggestions on the nearest railings and ledges.

Customers enjoy a view of the journey their food takes via live-streamed cameras mounted on the athletes' helmets.

2. By drone

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is credited with making the first commercial food delivery by drone in July last year.

It partnered with drone start-up Flirtey to deliver a chicken sandwich, donuts, coffee, candy and 7-Eleven's signature Slurpees via autonomous drone to a private residence in Reno, Nevada.

The distance the drone covered was about 1.6km.

In Singapore, food ordering app Foodpanda reportedly tested delivering meals via drones in March last year.

3. By robot

A fleet of 20 robots appeared in the US capital of Washington in March, created by an Estonian company called Starship Technologies that teamed up with online delivery service Postmates to get meals from restaurants delivered to nearby customers.

About the size of an Igloo cooler with wheels, they have the design aesthetic of an iPhone, the rugged durability of an all-terrain vehicle and the lovable charm of the Star Wars droid BB-8, the Washington Post reported.

The robots are piloted autonomously, guided by nine cameras and numerous sensors which can detect obstacles from as far as 9.1km away.

They can travel only on sidewalks and are capable of reaching a top speed of 6.4kmh.

4. By train, in a tiffin

India's famous dabbawalas (it means "one who carries a box") have perfected the art of food delivery in Mumbai - they pick up meals in tiffin carriers, send them by bicycle and train to the right customer without fail and return the empty carriers later in the day.

How it works: A colour-coding system is used to identify the destination and recipient, with a bicycle-riding dabbawala collecting the packed lunch boxes before taking them to a sorting place. The sorted boxes are put in the coaches if they are delivered by trains, with markings used to identify the boxes' destination.

They are then delivered to the various train stations, where the local dabbawala collects and delivers them.

Dabbawalas have been the focus of several logistics and supply chain studies over the years, while one particular individual - Mr Prakash Baly Bachche - set a Guinness world record in 2011 by carrying three tiffin crates on his head at once.