JD.com launches AI Catapult

JD.com has launched a new artificial intelligence machine called an AI Catapult accelerator that will focus on the development of AI and blockchain technologies.

According to a statement from JD.com, the AI Catapult will “partner with innovative blockchain startups to build new businesses and create and test real-world applications of their technologies at scale”.

In recent times JD.com has already made use of robotics and automation in both its distribution centre network and last mile delivery operations. The company has been looking at initiatives to use blockchain technology in supply chain transparency. Using AI Catapult, JD.com says that it “hopes to deploy these and related technologies even more widely and in more areas that will increase efficiencies and delight customers”.

According to the retail and logistics giant, AI Catapult is to be based in Beijing. JD.com has lined p a number of tech companies on its ‘inaugural roster’. These include: the Chinese fintech pioneer, Bankorous; Australia’s cryptocurrency specialist CanYa; Bluezelle, the blockchain-powered database service based in Singapore; London-based Nuggets, the e-commerce payments and ID platform built on blockchain; and Devery, a blockchain powered, open-source, product verification protocol.

JD.com said the development work on blockchain technology will focus on areas such as “scalability, security, privacy, efficiency and energy consumption”.

“JD is in a unique position to explore the potential of AI and blockchain in global commerce,” said Bowen Zhou, Vice President of JD.com’s AI Platform and Research Division. “We are excited to work with some of the world’s most innovative startups to explore ways we can scale these cutting edge technologies for the future of retail and other industries, as well.”