JD.com Urban Smart Logistics Institute to look underground

As the company develops its third party last mile delivery business, JD.com has indicated that it is studying the concept of an underground urban parcel delivery network. The firm is also about to launch an Urban Smart Logistics Institute which is to study this.

The Urban Smart Logistics Institute is to work with businesses and academic figures from Nankai University, the Institute of Comprehensive Transportation at the National Development and Reform Commission, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing Wuzi University, Shanghai Maritime University, Sinotrans & CSC, and Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute.

The idea of such an underground system has been mooted by Elon Musk through his ‘Boring Company’. The Urban Smart Logistics Institute would look at whether such an underground network could use existing subterranean tracks and municipal pipe corridors. It would study whether it is financially feasible given the rising costs of surface level last mile delivery.

Existing research shows that urban traffic is compounded considerably with last mile delivery vehicles, also causing pollution problems and inherent public health issues. China’s rapid urbanisation will only exacerbate those effects, causing intense changes to the environment, creating pollution, and disrupting people’s lives, JD.com said.

While apparently far fetched there are pressures to think outside the box with regard urban deliveries and the Urban Smart Logistics Institute could provide answers here.