Two big names in Asian e-commerce are working together: Chinese JD.com and Japanese Rakuten have signed an agreement to start using technology developed by JD.com, such as drones and robots, in Rakuten's unmanned delivery solutions in Japan.
JD.com's technology will be combined with Rakuten's expertise in unmanned deliveries, such as specialised shopping apps. Having launched their drone delivery service in 2016, Rakuten has already gained much experience by testing it in collaboration with business partners and local governments. The first delivery test was completed in 2018, using a combination of drones and autonomous delivery robots: a first step to solving the 'last mile' challenge in Japan.
JD.com started developing its drone programme in 2015 and launched the first commercial drone delivery in the world in 2016, somewhere in the Chinese countryside. Since then, the drones have spent over 400,000 minutes in the air. JD.com is also known for its autonomous delivery robots in China. Those can be seen regularly in industrial areas and at university campuses.
"We have been using drones and autonomous delivery robots for real deliveries in China for over two years," says Jun Xiao, who presides over JD's logistics lab JD-X. "This is one way we are innovating to make logistics more accessible, reliable and cost-effective. In Japan there are many opportunities for drones to make deliveries in mountainous areas, remote islands and in emergency situations. As we push the bounds of what our autonomous delivery technology can do, and explore its use in a wide range of applications from e-commerce to humanitarian support, we believe it will continue to bring significant benefit to people around the world."