Rakuten and JD link to provide unmanned air and ground delivery services in Japan

Rakuten, Inc., an e-commerce, communications and fintech company, and JD.com, China’s largest retailer, have signed an agreement that will see JD.com’s drones and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) utilized in Rakuten’s unmanned delivery solutions in Japan.

In January 2019 Rakuten announced plans to deliver packages by drones in rural Japan (https://www.unmannedairspace.info/uncat).egorized/rakuten-start-drone-package-deliveries-rural-japan-april-news-report).

Under the new agreement, Rakuten will combine its experience in drone delivery service operations in Japan and IT solutions, such as its dedicated shopping apps, with JD.com’s expertise in drones and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), which have a proven track record in China. The two companies will collaborate on Rakuten’s lineup of unmanned delivery services to suit a wide range of applications and situations. In 2018, Rakuten’s first delivery trial was conducted using a combination of drones and UGVs, a step toward solving the last mile challenge for the logistics sector in Japan.

According to Koji Ando, Group Managing Executive Officer of Rakuten, Inc. “By utilizing JD.com’s drones and UGVs with the unmanned delivery solutions created by Rakuten, we hope to accelerate innovation in the Japanese logistics sector and contribute to building a society that can offer greater convenience to all citizens.”

JD.com began developing its drone program in 2015 and began drone deliveries in 2016 in rural China in Jiangsu, Shaanxi, and other provinces. Since then, JD’s drones have logged more than 400,000 minutes of delivery flight time. In January 2019, the company announced the success of Indonesia’s first government-approved drone test flight, opening the door for future commercial drone use in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. On the ground in China, its UGVs are being used for delivery service in urban areas in several cities and these autonomous delivery robots are becoming frequent sights on a number of university campuses. JD.com has also launched two smart delivery stations in the cities of Changsha and Hohhot, transforming last-mile logistics and further increasing delivery speeds to customers.

“We have been using drones and autonomous delivery robots for real deliveries in China for over two years,” said Jun Xiao, president of JD-X, JD’s logistics innovation lab. “This is one way we are innovating to make logistics more accessible, reliable and cost-effective. In Japan there are many opportunities for drones to make deliveries in mountainous areas, remote islands, and in emergency situations. As we push the bounds of what our unmanned delivery technology can do, and explore its use in a wide range of applications from e-commerce to humanitarian support, we believe it will continue to bring significant benefit to people around the world.”

Rakuten and JD.com aim to accelerate the development and commercialization of Rakuten’s unmanned delivery solutions in Japan and will cooperate to promote convenience and innovation in society.

Overview of the Rakuten drone

Size: Length 160 cm × Height 60cm
Maximum payload weight: 5kg
Maximum flight distance: 16km
Maximum flight time: 40 minutes

For more information


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