Apr 3, 2020|

JD’s View on Robots Shared on WEF Virtual Roundtable


by Ling Cao

On April 1st, during a virtual roundtable hosted by the World Economic Forum entitled “Opportunity and Outlook of Automated Vehicles under COVID-19”, Qi Kong, Chief Scientist and Head of Autonomous Driving at JD Logistics, shared his insights on what JD has learned about the autonomous driving industry during the pandemic.

Qi Kong, Chief Scientist and Head of Autonomous Driving at JD Logistics

According to Kong, there are three key insights to share regarding the autonomous driving industry from JD’s perspective, namely:

  • To make commercial application of the technology a reality, companies need to ensure robots on the road are not accompanied by human operation – that they can operate independently. Powered by L4 level autonomous driving technology on public roads, JD has achieved this.
  • To operate at scale, the technology needs to be scheduled and integrated into a digital management platform, ensuring safety and greater monitoring capability.
  • Stakeholders should promote the shared development of the industry for its future and encourage collaboration among industry partners. JD has experienced the benefit of opening up its capabilities in autonomous driving and providing autopilot kits to partners. The need for shared development is true even beyond logistics scenarios, such as cold chain logistics, security support, disinfection and inspection. A specific example of partnership for the greater good in tackling COVID-19 around the world is one JD recently announced with GREE in robotics.

In terms of how to address challenges, Kong shared that it is critically important to accumulate more data from real-life scenarios to continuously upgrade technology. JD relies on its self-developed cloud simulation platform leveraging data from JD’s in-house logistics network, which largely reduces modification time.

Lastly, Kong shares that he believes logistics will be the first industry to achieve autonomous driving at scale, with power to change people’s lives by promoting next-generation infrastructure for the benefit of society.

On February 5th, JD quickly deployed its autonomous delivery robots in the epicenter of Wuhan to address unmet needs for contact-free delivery. The R&D for this technology is developed remotely from JD’s team in Beijing, and the company is able to provide this technology at just the right time because of its significant experience in autonomous driving.