China Focus: Delivery robots roll out future of China's logistics

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-04 19:07:34|Editor: Li Xia
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GUIYANG, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Fully loaded with parcels, five delivery robots head toward their destination, automatically following orders given through clicks on a control screen.

Each robot is a moving cargo tank with 30 package slots, running at a speed of 5-15 km per hour. They carefully observe traffic rules thanks to an autopilot system.

These robots are demonstrated at an exhibition center of an intelligent delivery station under construction in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

"All-rounded monitoring of the surrounding environment through radars and sensors can help the smart courier avoid roadblocks and pedestrians," said Ma Xiaoyong, a staff member of the center.

"Customers will receive a text message to pick up their delivery. The robots can distinguish the customers through facial recognition or passwords and will return to the station after all deliveries," he said.

Expected to be put into operation this year, the robot courier station in Guiyang is the third of its kind launched by China's e-commerce giant following that in central China's Hunan Province and north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

"We want to use robots to make the last-mile deliveries safely and efficiently," Ma said.

In the past, couriers went back and forth between the distribution station and different destinations, but now through the cooperation with robots, people only need to give orders and the robots will do the rest, he added.

China's fast-developing e-commerce is shaping its logistics industry to be more intelligent, with cutting-edge technologies introduced for storage, transportation and delivery.

In 2018, the smart logistics market exceeded 400 billion yuan (58 billion U.S. dollars), and the number is expected to reach 1 trillion yuan by 2025, according to a report released by iiMedia Research, a Chinese consulting agency.

Cainiao Network Technology, Alibaba's logistics arm, said in May that they would connect 100 million smart devices with partnering couriers to digitalize and accelerate the delivery process.

The development of delivery robots, with the help of big data and artificial intelligence, has gradually become a new trend.

More than 20 self-driving JD delivery robots hit the road for the first time in Beijing last year, delivering parcels purchased from the platform.

Opened last year, the first JD robot delivery station in Changsha has a team of 20 robot couriers to serve customers within a range of 5 km from the station and can handle 2,000 deliveries a day.

The company said last year that it had worked with Chinese robot maker Siasun to develop logistics robots and increase automation from order to delivery. It will renovate 800 logistics centers nationwide with AI technologies by the end of 2023.

The robot can not only improve delivery efficiency and save labor costs, but also help conduct user portrait analysis through big data and promote the development of the digital economy, according to Ma.

"New job opportunities, such as back-office monitoring staff and maintenance workers, will also be provided," he said.