Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

JD delivery stations strengthen autonomous logistics

Steve Rogerson
January 22, 2019



Chinese retail giant JD has opened two smart delivery stations in the cities of Changsha and Hohhot, strengthening the ecommerce company’s autonomous logistics capabilities.
 
The stations are carrying out R&D, testing and personnel training to solve problems related to last-kilometre delivery. JD’s delivery robots can be loaded with up to 30 parcels before autonomously delivering them within a 5km radius.
 
The vehicles can plan routes, avoid obstacles and recognise traffic lights. Facial recognition technology lets users easily and securely collect their parcels. Running at full capacity, the delivery stations, operating with a half-half split between robots and couriers, can deliver up to 2000 packages a day.
 
The opening of the smart delivery stations came days before JD attended its first Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
 
At CES, JD showed technology that is transforming the way consumers shop in China, and which it believes will revolutionise global commerce. Visitors saw how JD used its drones to deliver consumer goods and medical supplies to remote areas in China, and catch a glimpse of its fully automated fulfilment centre. They also saw how underground urban logistics could make shopping more convenient, and fundamentally alter how cities work.
 
CES attendees saw JD’s futuristic technology up close and tried some of it for themselves on the company’s interactive stand.
 
Aside from drones and delivery robots, visitors experienced drone flights in virtual reality, as well as JD’s augmented reality fitting and styling software. They also saw how JD was developing IoT technology that enables consumers to control the smart devices in their homes remotely, even from their cars.
 
There was also a chance for people to try a special exoskeleton worn by staff in JD warehouses that makes lifting heavy objects easier.
 
Many of JD’s innovations are designed to realise the company’s Boundaryless Retail vision, in which consumers can buy whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want it.
 
“As China’s largest retailer, JD is in the unique position of being able to research and develop, and commercially deploy, innovative new technology that is shaping the future of shopping worldwide,” said Chen Zhang, JD.com’s chief technology officer. “As JD opens its technology up to other companies and industries, the features that we’ve already rolled out in China from automated warehouses to virtual shopping are going to be enjoyed by consumers everywhere.”
 
JD started in 1998 as an offline electronics retailer, launching its online business following the sars outbreak in 2004. At that time, China didn’t have well-developed logistics infrastructure, so JD made the bold decision to develop its own nationwide, in-house logistics network. Today, that network can deliver over 90% of orders same- or next-day, and covers 99% of China’s population.
 
With more than 300 million active users, JD is China’s largest retailer, online or offline, and is the world’s third largest internet company by revenue. It counts Tencent, Walmart and Google among its partners in global commerce.