Chinese Retailer JD.com Developing Heavy-Load Drones, Delivery Network
The largest online retailer in China has its sights set on delivering the largest drone deliveries in the next few years. In a statement on its website, JD.com said it has reached an agreement with the provincial government of Shaanxi to build the “largest low-altitude drone logistics network” in China, which will include the use of heavy-load drones capable of carrying payloads of more than a ton.
Drone delivery is currently being tested in other parts of the world—including by Amazon here in the U.S.—but JD.com says it has been conducting drone deliveries to consumers since November 2016. The smaller drones are capable of delivering single packages to consumers’ homes. By contrast, the heavy-load drones that JD.com envisions developing will be able to transport “high-quality” products to remote areas and agricultural produce to cities.
At present, drone manufacturers haven’t been able to achieve the one-ton payload that JD.com is seeking, though some have been able to carry hundreds of kilograms at a time.