JD.com and Cainiao unveil delivery robots

Two major Chinese online retailers have unveiled their autonomous delivery robots. Both JD.com and Alibaba’s Cainiao announced that they are testing their own systems at separate events last week. These robots are similar to the Starship system that is being tested by Hermes and Swiss Post in Europe.

Cainiao’s robot is a metre tall and ‘stands up’, and has a capacity for between 10 – 20 packages. Meanwhile its rival JD.com’s system is a metre long, has six wheels and can only carry around six parcels. Both autonomous delivery robots have onboard navigation systems that should enable them to transit towns and cities in China.

It is reported that JD.com is aiming at pilot testing its system in October this year with a view to rolling out for full scale commercial use in the middle of next year. JD.com is also testing autonomous drones for delivery as well so seems to be spreading its bets as to delivery systems.

Cainiao is still testing its robot at the Alibaba Hangzhou testing facilities, and it has not announced when or if this system will be used commercially on any set time span.

An article publishing on TechInAsia today also reported that JD.com is working on a larger driver-less delivery vehicle (which will be more like a car than the vacuum cleaner-like land delivery drones we are seeing at the moment).

Whatever the outcome of the new systems, it is near certain that autonomous delivery robots will be the way ahead for delivery companies in the years to come. Now China’s major companies are interested the possibility has turned into an inevitability.