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China E-commerce Deploy Driverless Vehicles and Drones

An example of the transformative power of technology changing the very nature of the business. What is noteworthy is how these delivery methods that rely on ICT technology are giving faster and much more reliable service to Chinese consumers.

In efforts to cope with rising demands, a string of Chinese technology companies has been at the forefront of adopting driverless delivery vehicles. By doing so, they aim to enhance logistics efficiency and reduce logistics costs. Most importantly, they improve service efficiency and user experience.

The mechanism behind these deliveries is ingenious and is like looking like the future of business now. Navigated by radar and sensors, a typical unmanned delivery vehicle automatically calculates optimal routes and avoids barriers and pedestrians. Plus, it sends messages to the recipient concerned when approaching final destinations.

The results are promising. Hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers can vouch for the efficiency and reliability of unmanned delivery vehicles, a new form of surface transport, now being employed by fresh food retail firms for making door deliveries.

Last year, Beijing greenlighted a host of e-commerce tech companies to trial self-driving delivery vehicles on assigned public roads in the Yizhuang Development Area. The area has served as an economic and technological testing ground as initiated by the local government of the capital city.

Business in driverless vehicles is increasing. For instance, one of China’s largest local on-demand delivery and retail platforms is accelerating steps to expand its unmanned delivery network, in collaboration with a logistics arm of an e-commerce giant working together with an autonomous delivery vehicle developer.

By and large, its system capability is largely efficient and can:

  • Distribute orders automatically for supermarkets
  • Manage package loading
  • Maintain the normal operations of orders through its human-machine interaction technology
  • Dispatch the unmanned vehicles and plan routes to fulfil online orders

At present, the platform has delivered over 30,000 orders for supermarket partners. Meanwhile, its delivery fulfilment rates remained stable at over 95 per cent even during promotion gala and inclement weather, the founder of the delivery business disclosed.

Demand for online grocery delivery services is growing fast in China. According to a report based on a survey conducted by a market consultancy, consumers are increasingly embracing on-demand consumption, with fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat and eggs figuring among the most commonly purchased categories.

Compared with traditional delivery, unmanned delivery features lower delivery costs, larger carrying capacity and higher safety for one-hour delivery. It also provides a viable alternative to address some challenges, such as rising labour costs and a shortage of couriers, experts said.

China is definitely moving up when it comes to digital transformation. Just recently, it added a fifth 5G operator to service its huge population. The state-owned carrier will be servicing the nation this year allowing more people to enjoy better and faster communications.

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