JD.com and Rakuten trial unmanned delivery
Written by Peter Walker
China’s largest retailer JD.com, and e-commerce solutions provider Rakuten, have signed an agreement that will see the former’s drones and autonomous delivery robots utilised in the latter’s unmanned delivery solutions in Japan.
Rakuten launched its drone delivery service in 2016, and has gained experience through trials in collaboration with corporate partners and local governments. In 2018, its first delivery was conducted using a combination of drones and autonomous delivery robots, in a step toward solving the last mile challenge for the logistics sector in Japan.
“We are delighted to begin this collaboration with JD.com, which boasts the most cutting-edge proprietary delivery network in China as well as a track record and know-how in delivery with drones,” said Koji Ando, group managing executive officer of Rakuten.
JD.com began developing its drone program in 2015, and launched the world’s first commercial drone deliveries in 2016 in rural China. It currently operates drones in Jiangsu, Shaanxi and other provinces.
Last month, the company announced the success of Indonesia’s first government-approved drone test flight, opening the door for future commercial drone use in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
On the ground in China, its autonomous delivery robots are being used in urban areas in several cities and are becoming frequent sights on a number of university campuses and in office parks.
JD.com has also launched two smart delivery stations in the cities of Changsha and Hohhot.
Jun Xiao, president of JD-X, JD’s logistics innovation lab, commented: “In Japan there are many opportunities for drones to make deliveries in mountainous areas, remote islands and in emergency situations.
“As we push the bounds of what our autonomous delivery technology can do, and explore its use in a wide range of applications from e-commerce to humanitarian support, we believe it will continue to bring significant benefit to people around the world.”