JD.com to Test Using Drones for Delivery System
JD.com is working on finding ways to cut delivery times for rural online shoppers by using drones. China’s largest online direct selling company said that their staff at its logistics research and development lab are working on an unmanned drone project with a goal of distributing in underdeveloped rural areas. JD.com said that it has already completed a test drone delivery service in Suqian in Jiangsu province.
In a recent statement JD.com said that it will continue to do research in drone use before creating a dedicated control center that will be used for drone delivery and make the plans a realityin the near future. Some analysts are saying that using drone delivery is still a pie in the sky for several firms due to regulatory hurdles that are involved and the cost and safety issues that comes with it. Chief Executive Officer for JD.com Liu Qiangdong said to the World Internet Conference last December that he have high hopes that using futuristic technology will soon meet the rapidly growing demand from online shoppers in rural china. With the use of drones, rural customers can enjoy a more efficient online shopping experience that allows them to cut down on staff and delivery costs.
JD.com is not alone in researching the use of drones for delivery, Amazon.com is also developing its Prime Air drone that promises super fast delivery of order within 30 minutes and can even deliver in the busiest city center by avoiding heavy traffic. Its different with JD.com, instead of using drones to deliver goods directly to shoppers the company plans to employ them to transport good from rural distribution stations to deliverymen based in rural villages.
The company’s logic is that the distance between rural distribution station and a village is likely to be less than 10 kilometers, but delivery time will be greatly reduced as the process will avoid tricky land journeys that take half a day due to poor road conditions in rural parts of the country. Test runs are already been done and have showed that the drones are effective in delivering small to medium sized packages.
Creating careful flight plans, deliverymen can wait for the packages at fixed landing points then can complete final delivery to people’s doorsteps. However a retail specialist said that using drones to deliver is more expensive than using deliverymen at this stage since the drones are not equipped in delivering heavy items and large drones costs more than 100,000 yuan and takes five years to get drone delivery to operate economically and efficiently.