JD.com Forms Autonomous Light Van Research Partnerships with SAIC Maxus, Dongfeng
JD.com, China’s largest retailer, has announced partnerships with SAIC Maxus, China’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer, and Dongfeng Motor Corporation, China’s leading automobile manufacturer, to conduct research into China’s first autonomous vans.
JD has jointly researched two models of autonomous light electric vans with SAIC Maxus and Dongfeng, respectively, for delivery of goods from JD’s distribution centers to delivery stations in the future. SAIC Maxus’ electric van can sense obstacles 150 meters away and plans its route leveraging its radar system, sensors and positioning system. To date the van has conducted successful tests of its automatic route planning, automatic overtaking, automatic obstacle avoidance and self-parking functions.
Autonomous vans are the latest additions to JD’s autonomous vehicle family. JD began developing its autonomous ground delivery vehicle in September 2016, aiming to employ unmanned delivery vehicles to conduct bulk deliveries to office buildings and residential areas in cities to increase the efficiency of deliveries in urban areas.
In June, JD began testing last-mile delivery via autonomous delivery robots on university campuses. Students at Renmin University and Tsinghua University, among other schools, who place orders on JD can pick up their items from the autonomous robot at designated destinations across campus such as cafeterias or dormitories. By using a unique passcode, JD users can open the delivery robot’s secure locker to retrieve their parcels.
“With technology as the driving force, JD operates the most advanced retail operation in the world,” said Zhenhui Wang, CEO of JD Logistics. “Our extensive in-house logistics network provides the ideal real-world scenario in which to test autonomous vans. Working with our partners, we will continue to enhance our smart logistics and push the bounds of traditional logistics solutions.”
JD currently operates China’s largest nationwide delivery network and is able to provide same- or next-day delivery to a population of over a billion. Its logistics innovation lab is also researching other state-of-the-art automation technology such as delivery drones and automated warehouses to provide the best possible user experience for customers.