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One of China’s largest online retailers is adding dozens of drone delivery routes to rural villages in 2017

Опубликовано : 1-09-2017, 15:36 | Категория: Technology news   

While unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States will not start delivering packages on regular routes for several years, in China this is already happening.

JD.com, one of the largest online stores in China, runner-up only in Alibaba, last year launched its drones delivery program, sending a parcel through an unmanned plane to four provinces: Jiangsu, rural Beijing, Sichuan and Guangxi.

In these provinces, JD has regulatory approval to fly on its unmanned aerial vehicles, but this year the company is working to get approval from more local authorities in China to expand its unmanned service. Now JD offers delivery of drones to about 20 fixed routes. However, by the end of 2017 the company intends to open 100 delivery routes throughout the country.

JD has developed its own aircraft, and there are five different types of drones, which are used depending on the size of the parcel.

"We are trying to supply drones from cities to the countryside," explained JD CEO Richard Liu. "In each village, we have a delivery man who lives in the village and he will take parcels (delivered by drones) to different homes." Each unmanned aerial vehicle can carry from eight to 15 packages that have been ordered in the village.

Here's how it works: Clients in areas that are eligible to receive delivery orders from JD, usually through an application for smartphones. If these products are available in the warehouse, the drone will fly to the village and pack the package on the landing pad, which is operated by a link that works with the online store to receive and distribute packages.

This is different from the approach that Amazon takes with the delivery of drones, where each unmanned aerial vehicle delivers the parcel to a separate house. JD planes fly along a fixed route, moving from the distribution center to the landing pad at each location.

Amazon has been testing its unmanned aerial vehicles in rural areas for the last two years. The slow regulatory approval process in the US hampered the company's ability to begin testing its aircraft in their country.

In the United States, the delivery of drone is not expected, at least until 2020, while the Federal Aviation Administration continues to develop regulations and determine the national air traffic management system solution at low altitude. It is still not feasible to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle from line of sight in the US without the special permission of the FAA.

Nevertheless, some companies were able to receive FAA's blessing to launch test flights. In November, 7-Eleven collaborated with Drone Flirtey to complete 77 unmanned shipments. All of these deliveries were within one mile of 7-Eleven, which was part of the trial program and took place in the field of view of the operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle.

Alibaba, the largest online store in China, conducted a one-time trial of delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles in 2015, but has since no longer worked with drones.

For JD, unmanned aerial vehicles are a way for an online store to expand its business in rural China without much shipping costs. According to Liu, shipping drones to rural areas can be at least 70 percent cheaper than truck transport, and takes only a small fraction of the time, since unmanned aerial vehicles can soar above roads and mountain regions.
Source: recode.net

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