26 OCTOBER 2017 Chinese Delivery Drones China Focus: JD.com Is Beating Amazon at the Delivery Drone Game JingDong (aka JD.com) has been aggressively developing its drone capabilities ever since they first announced their intention to use delivery drones in October 2015. Earlier this year, they boldly announced plans to establish 150 operational sites for delivery drones in the province of Sichuan over a three year span. By June they had already conducted test flights. As of October, according to their recently released YouTube video, their delivery drones have logged in a total of 30,821 minutes in flight time, delivered 8,086 packages and flown a total of 10,242 km (6,364 mi). By comparison, Amazon (who was the first to amaze us back in 2013 with the whole delivery drone concept) seems to still be stuck in the testing stage. They only recently conducted their first proof-of-concept flight in Cambridge, England this past December. So what do China’s delivery drones look like? How will they be used and what does the future hold for them? The JD.com delivery drone fleet circa 2016. Source: JD.com The JD.com Delivery Drone Fleet As of June 2017, JD.com had seven (7) different types of delivery drones in testing or operation across four provinces in China (Beijing, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Jiangsu). The drones are capable of delivering packages weighing between 5 to 30 kg (11 to 66 lbs) while flying up to 100 km/hr (62 mph). The drones do not deliver goods directly to people’s homes. Rather, they automatically fly along fixed routes from warehouses to special landing pads where one of JD.com’s 300,000 local contractors then deliver the packages to the customers’...
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