Jul 30, 2021|

Behind the Scenes of JD’s Drone Rescue Efforts in Henan


by Yuchuan Wang

Since Jul. 22, JD’s self-developed logistics drone has been delivering emergency supplies in Xinxiang, a flood-stricken city in Henan province.

Chaokang Liu, a drone engineer from JD’s logistics innovation lab, JD-X, received the company’s call for an urgent trip to Henan.

Liu did not hesitate to make the decision to go, as his parents were survivors of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake which killed at least 242,000 people, and he wanted to give back to others.

Liu immediately packed his luggage and a last-mile delivery drone, which can lift 25 kilograms of goods, for the trip to Henan. He rode in a JD Logistics truck and traveled 10 hours from Xi’an, Shaanxi province, where his team is based.

As soon as he arrived, Liu received the request that 30 workers in Xinxiang were stranded in a factory park and were short of food. But successfully delivering the food to those workers would prove difficult.

After three hours of searching, Liu finally found a place from which the drone could take off. However, he had never used this drone at night time, as it is a newly developed model. Moreover, communications in Xinxiang were greatly affected by the flood, and he was afraid that the drone could not manage location tracking accurately. The food might not arrive at the rooftop and fall into the flood.

He decided to give a try anyway. “If you can save 30 people, it’s worth it, even if the drone crashes,” said Liu.

The drone took off—and soon after successfully landed on top of a truck in the factory, where the group of trapped workers were able to access the food supplies.

With Liu and JD’s drone, the group of workers finally got their meal for the day. Soon after that, they were rescued and transported to safety.

Liu said, “It’s my duty to rescue more people, and I’ll keep going on this journey with my drone.”