China’s e-commerce giant JD.com has officially introduced drones to its delivery team as part of this year’s Singles’ Day shopping festival. The drones are currently permitted to fly in four cities, among them Beijing and Xi’an. Richard Liu, founder of JD.com, made the announcement on Weibo.
With a debut in June, the delivery drones of JD were successfully used to deliver parcels from a distribution center in Suqian, in Jiangsu province, Eastern China – which is also the hometown of Liu – to a nearby village.
Five months later the drones can now fly over 10 fixed routes planned in four Chinese cities – they will be put into a daily delivery schedule before long.
JD is using drones of various types, that are powered by either electricity or gasoline, as well as hybrid drones, able to carry parcels up to 30 kilograms and continue flying for 30 kilometers.
Data from JD shows that, so far, the delivery drones have flied a total mileage of nearly 10,000 kilometers, flying for more than 10,000 minutes with over 1,000 flights.
Different from Alibaba, which works with a network of delivery service providers, JD.com has its own logistics network that covers 6,000 local delivery and pickup stations.
Introducing drones to the delivery force is more than a bonus for fresh customer experience, as it can also reduce the delivery cost significantly – especially when it comes to rural deliveries where the transport is inconvenient and sometimes dangerous.