Chinese retailer JD.com plan to launch a fleet of heavy lifting drones that can carry items weighing the equivalent of a small car across cities to its 235 million customers.
It began trials back in November 2016 and will primarily be used to carry goods to customers living in remote regions. JD.com is the Amazon of China, and with so many delivery networks it sees drones as the next big step. With 235 million regular customers, they need to adapt.
The move has frustrated Amazon, with boss Jeff Bezos frustrated that the Federal Aviation Administration can’t decide how to regulate the airways and taking 10 months to clear the first flights of its experimental drone. By that time, the applications approval was useless because the company had already built bigger and better drones. As a result, Amazon has now shifted its drone development facilities to Canada and the UK, and progress has been somewhat slower than its Chinese rivals.
However, instead of the drone delivering directly to customers’ doorsteps, a local delivery person retrieves the cargo from the drone, which may carry between eight and 15 packages that were ordered by people in the village. The delivery person then brings the packages to people’s doors. Amazon, on the other hand, has shown how it plans to use drones to deliver directly to people’s houses, as opposed to grouping local shipments like JD.
With technology expanding at a large rate, drones may be a new interesting concept, but at the moment they are just that. So called ‘old fashioned’ shipping methods will continue on as they always have, and companies will look for innovative and price effective ways of making sure that their customers still use people rather than just technology.