Friday, April 28, 2017

Giant Chinese online retailer to build 150 drone delivery launch centers

The giant Chinese online retailer JD.com, one of the country's largest internet shopping sites second only to Alibaba is to build 150 drone launch centers in Sichuan to deliver to rural areas CEO Richard Liu announced.

It is easy to buy goods online and have them delivered in cities but in rural areas choices are much more limited and local stores usually have higher prices. Liu said the new drone sites could reduce shipping costs as much as 70 percent. The firm has been holding talks with the government for a more extensive logistics agreement in the province.
JD.com has been developing it drone capacities since October of 2015 through its JDX innovation lab. A Wall Street Journal article at the end of January last year reported tests were already underway: "The Beijing-based company said Thursday it has started an experiment with bright red drones emblazoned with its logo to carry small packages to far-flung areas that are difficult to reach with regular truck routes." The article notes that Amazon.com is also planning a 30 minute Prime Air delivery service. JD.com's larger rival Alibaba Group Holding may also compete with JD.com.
company statement said:"In areas where complex terrain and poor infrastructure makes last mile logistics challenging, JD drones can deliver orders from regional delivery stations to JD's dedicated 'village promoters' in each village, who then distribute the orders directly to customers, shortening delivery times and reducing costs. Many rural residents have traditionally had far fewer buying choices than their urban counterparts. That's because they could purchase goods only from local stores, where they often find higher prices than are typically seen in the cities, and where counterfeit goods remain an issue,"
The company claimed it had about 300,000 village promoters of the delivery service. The company has five different drone models. Some can fly up to 100 kilometers per hour. They can carry a range of parcels weighing from 5 to 15 kilograms. They can travel a maximum of 50 kilometers before they need to be recharged. The company is hoping to have drones that can carry larger loads up to 500 kilograms.
An Amazon representative said last December: "We've started a new private trial in the Cambridge area of England, and on December 7, we completed our first delivery. We will use the data gathered during this beta test and the feedback provided by customers to expand the private trial to more customers over time. We're starting with two customers now, and in the coming months we'll offer participation to dozens of customers living within several miles of our UK facility. And then growing to hundreds more." Some UK citizens have complained about how drones are being used. Figures for April 2016 show there were 10 incidents a day, including allegations of snooping neighbors, burglary, and near-misses with aircraft. The Swiss postal service is already using drones to deliver lab samples.


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