Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Suning and Baidu partner on autonomous delivery vehicles

Steve Rogerson
July 24, 2018



China’s Suning Logistics is working with Baidu Apollo to accelerate the commercial application of self-driving technology. This could see the mass production of unmanned delivery vehicles as early as 2020.
 
Suning and Baidu, announced the partnership at the this month’s Baidu Create event in Beijing. The two parties also unveiled an unmanned delivery vehicle dubbed the MicroCar. Equipped with Baidu's L4-class intelligence system, the MicroCar has been designed to solve what Suning describes as "the last 5km delivery problems".
 
Suning also introduced its smart logistics system, which includes terminal delivery scenarios providing opportunities for the self-driving technology of Baidu Apollo to be put into commercial use. The terminal delivery scenarios include: smart community (unmanned delivery car plus automatic picking-up cabinet); local instant delivery (convenience store plus unmanned delivery car); and mobile distribution (unmanned distribution car plus fixed distribution route).
 
Suning plans to bring the self-driving technology into commercial use first in its local instant delivery services. Currently, Suning convenience stores provide delivery services within 3km and the unmanned self-driving delivery vehicle will be a supplement to couriers, enabling a 24-hours delivery service for the local community.
 
"By combining the rich smart community scenarios built by Suning, and the advanced unmanned self-driving technology developed by Baidu in its Apollo programme, we are now significantly closer to realising the commercialisation of fully autonomous, self-driving technology,” said Lu Junfeng, vice president of Suning Logistics. “In the future, with continued in-depth cooperation between Suning and Baidu, a new form of smart logistics community will better benefit the public by making their lives even easier."
 
This year, Suning Logistics has made huge investments in self-driving commercialisation, launching a number of unmanned logistics facilities. In May, Suning completed a road test of its Strolling Dragon heavy-duty self-driving lorry, the first self-driving heavy lorry developed by a Chinese e-commerce company to pass logistics campus tests and highway-scenario road tests in China.
 
In April, Suning officially launched its AGV automated guided vehicles warehouse in Jinan, providing a goods-to-people service that uses robots to shorten the pick-up and select process in the warehouse to ten seconds – five times more efficient than manual work.
 
The partnership with Baidu Apollo is part of Sunning's strategy to provide fully automated logistics powered by artificial intelligence. Sunning says it will continue to collaborate with technology firms to build a smart logistics system in which self-driving lorries, automated vehicles and robots work seamlessly to complete the delivery job for humans.
 
Founded in 1990, Suning has two public companies in China and Japan. In 2017, Suning Holding ranked second among the top 500 private-owned enterprises in China with annual sales of US$65.7bn.