The Times, 21 June 2018
Robot vehicles have made their debut on the roads of Beijing, marking a breakthrough for automated deliveries in the world’s largest market for internet orders.
Dozens of the carts, each roughly the size of a motorbike and with some bearing the cartoon dog logo of JD.com, the online retail giant, have begun making deliveries for the company in the northwest Haidian district.
The robots can carry up to 300kg of goods at a top speed of 10mph and are programmed to stop at red lights. They travel in lanes alongside roads used by cyclists and electric motorbike riders. “We are using delivery robots to reduce the human costs of traditional delivery service,” Yang Jing, general manager of JD.com’s research department, said. “At the same time, it improves transportation efficiency.”
Customers claim their packages by verifying their identity with the robot’s facial recognition technology, or via JD.com’s smartphone app. The robots have previously been used for deliveries on university campuses and industrial parks. JD.com has also used drones in rural areas.
The company plans to introduce over 100 further delivery robots in over 20 cities. Liu Qiangdong, chairman of JD.com, has said that the company’s delivery systems could be completely automated within eight years.