Jan. 25, 2018 – Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com delivered its first package using an autonomous delivery vehicle in Tianjin, China, one of the main ports in the North of China, outside of Beijing.
In an official statement on Jan. 18, JD.com stated, “After extensive testing in campus environments, this is the first time the vehicles will be used in a public, urban setting.” The company, which is located in Beijing, has used Tianjin as a testing site for various initiatives including two unmanned convenience stores.
Tianjin is one of China’s free market zones officially called a Technological Economic Development Area (TEDA). Established in 1984, it is a fertile testing ground for technological research and an active international trade zone.
Tianjin will be a research, production and testing base for JD.com’s autonomous logistics technologies, including robots, drones, and autonomous delivery vehicles. The company has tested the autonomous delivery vehicles for months on University campuses and at company headquarters in Tianjin. In addition to this R&D agreement, JD.com will deploy the vehicles in the Tianjin Sino-Singapore ecocity, a collaborative venture between China and Singapore to develop a socially harmonious, environmentally friendly and resource-conserving city in China.
Logistics in China have become an important economic sector and the subject of great investment. In addition to autonomous delivery vehicles, driverless cars and general investments in the automotive and transportation market are being made. Investments home delivery services and the delivery services linked to e-commerce are on the rise, as displayed by e-commerce leader Alibaba. In Q4 2017, it acquired a controlling stake in logistics company Cainiao, and announced its intention to invest $15 billion more in global logistics over the next five years.