JD.com to launch drone delivery network

While Western countries get mired in drone related bureaucracy, China is flying ahead. Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com  has said that it is to build 150 drone launching and recovery sites for unmanned drones in the Chinese southwestern province of Sichuan.

Speaking to China Daily, the JD.com CEO Richard Liu said that the operation sites are expected to open in three years time. He also said that the system should reduce freight costs by 70%.

The planned drone service is set to deliver products from Sichuan to shoppers across China within 24 hours and improve delivery efficiency in the more remote mountainous areas of Sichuan.

While companies in the West have hit bureaucratic brick walls, JD.com says it has been developing its drone delivery systems to meet rising retail demand in China’s more remote rural areas. In these areas, complex terrain and underdeveloped infrastructure have compromised timely courier delivery.

According to the company its drones can carry payloads of up to 50kg of parcels, and have already been through an extensive testing process. JD.com say that drones able to carry loads of up to 500kg are being developed even now.

JD.com’s drone delivery project has received approval in some provinces, and planning of air routes began in May.

This may come as a bit of a jolt to Western companies that have had serious regulatory hurdles to deal with even to test their vehicles. The US FAA won’t for instance permit flights out of the line of sight of the remote pilot and won’t allow them to be flown remotely by a computer unlike other countries that permit one person to fly them from an office with AI support…

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