Alibaba robots deliver 1 millionth parcel

Alibaba’s Xiaomanlv autonomous delivery robots have delivered their one millionth parcel in their first year of operations.

The 200 robots have delivered parcels to 200,000 consumers in 52 cities across 22 Chinese provinces. Each robot can carry around 50 packages at a time and has a 100km range per charge. They can deliver up to 500 packages a day.

Alibaba plans to invest heavily in the fleet, expanding it to 10,000 robots, which will handle a million packages a day.

The fast roll out has resulted in Chinese consumers treating them as an everyday thing now. Head of the Autonomous Driving Lab at Alibaba’s DAMO Academy, Wang Gang said, “Xiaomanlv achieving over one million delivery orders is just the beginning,” said Wang. “It’s laid the groundwork for the future development and application of our autonomous driving technology.”

The Xiaomanlv robots cost around a third of that of its commercial rivals like the Nuro or Starship robots. This is because they don’t use the high definition sensors of their rivals, but instead trained algorithms to achieve similar results. The Autodrive system has been trained by Alibaba’s cloud computing driven test program that gives it 10,000 different scenarios to work through. As a result each robot can encounter typically 40 million obstacles a day and navigate around the vast majority of them without human intervention.

Alibaba is taking the self-driving technology to self-driving tucks and is working with its logistics subsidiary Cainiao Network to road test them. “These larger robots will be able to deliver goods at a faster speed and for longer distances. They are likely to appear on public roads within three years,” Wang said.

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