JD.com opens a robot-operated milk tea house in central Beijing

This is the second time for JD to incorporate automation in the retail beverage sector.

Photo: provided by JD.com

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has opened a beverage house in central Beijing, with robot arms preparing and serving drinks like milk tea and coffee, according to a press release issued by the company on Tuesday.

The robot arms are adapted from similar equipment used by JD Logistics to sort packages, according to a video posted by JD.com to promote the tea house. They have been programmed to control cups, mix and stir drinks, seal the cups with plastic film, and clean the work area. Only a few items on the menu require additional human work.

This isn’t the first time for JD.com to incorporate automation in a milk tea business. In 2015, the company opened a milk tea house in north Beijing, serving as a showcase for smart hardware — but not robot arms — on the JD+ platform, an incubator for early-stage tech entrepreneurs.

However, JD.com terminated the milk tea house’s operation earlier this year due to “changes in market conditions.”