In China, e-commerce giant JD.com plans to deploy 100 autonomous delivery vehicles on the streets of Changshu city, the South China Morning Post reports. The development of this technology is largely being driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
One sector is obviously booming
Delivery robots have been talking about them for a number of years, especially in the US with companies like Amazon or FedEx who have tested their use on the streets of several cities. As with other tech services, their usefulness seems much more evident today as the world is ravaged by a pandemic and people are urged to respect social distancing.
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It is therefore not surprising that this sector is developing in China, fertile ground for innovation, on which real giants of e-commerce thrive. JD.com plans to roll out a fleet of delivery robots in the country, starting at 100 this year in Changshu, Jiangsu Province and over 100,000 over the next five years in the rest of the territory. The company also began operations on the city streets in August after testing its level 4 autonomous driving technique in Wuhan during the containment measures imposed on the metropolis. During this time, the robots covered 6,800 kilometers and delivered 13,000 packages.
Much like minivans, the vehicles have built-in information to plan their own routes and deliver packages to their destination. You can also cover the distance of 50 kilometers on a single charge. There the system calls the recipient or sends him a message and gives him a code so that he can pick him up. After a certain waiting time in absence, the robot can postpone its delivery.
Livox enables one of the largest Chinese technology companies JD to use our latest lidar technology with its autonomous delivery vehicle
For detailed information: https://t.co/VEdBF9LCSW pic.twitter.com/iKV1pqzAmx
– Livox LiDAR (@LivoxTech) October 23, 2020
A technology that is still in development
Alibaba, JD.com’s biggest competitor in the Middle Kingdom, unveiled its own autonomous delivery vehicle that can transport 50 packages in September. In 2019, the Chinese company Neolix started the industrial production of delivery robots.
The pandemic has logically accelerated this trend, but nevertheless these vehicles will not be deployed as quickly as one might think: “In order to achieve widespread use, it will take at least 10 years, even 20 years. Because companies find a business model and need to know how they can benefit from it. There are support guidelines for the use of unmanned delivery vehicles, but specific implementation of the ground rules by the government is still required, “said Analyst Zhao Yue of the company Analysys.