China's JD.com Eyes Drone Deliveries to Rural Areas

China’s largest B2C online retailer, JD.com has launched the first operational pilot programme for drone deliveries in China using at least two types of UAVs to deliver packages between designated distribution centres in rural areas outside of Suqian city in northeast China’s Jiangsu province, China Daily reported.

JD-com drone delivery tests
JD-com drone delivery tests

The two drones, which are based at the Caoji township delivery depot, are capable of autonomously loading and unloading up to 200 packages in a single flight route each day. The drones can each carry 10 to 15 kg of weight and fly 15 to 20 km at a speed of up to 54 km per hour.

Flying on fixed routes
For the time being, the JD.com drones will fly on fixed routes to ensure the safety of drone delivery. That means the drones won’t be deployed to deliver goods directly to shoppers just yet. Instead, JD.com will use them to transport goods from rural distribution stations to deliverymen based in villages. The deliverymen will then distribute goods directly to online shoppers.
JD received a one-year license to fly drones in Suqian and the company is applying for licenses to fly drones in four other provinces in China in a bid to expand coverage to other rural areas in the future.

Nol van Fenema

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