JD's unmanned small-sized driverless vehicle is pictured on June 18, 2017. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Chinese e-commerce giant JD will invest 2 billion yuan ($312 million) over the next three years to establish the headquarters of its unmanned delivery vehicles in Changsha, capital of Hunan province.
The project is aimed at promoting the research and development, testing, personnel training related to autonomous delivery vehicles and the construction of intelligent manufacturing industrial bases, which includes intelligent robots and equipment, according to JD.
The company plans to attract 1,000 university graduates and over 10 teams of experts to Changsha for the purpose in the next five years.
JD has already launched its delivery robots in Changsha, and plans to test these robots in Hunan University to solve the last-mile delivery problem, the costliest part of overall parcel delivery costs.
Xiao Jun, vice-president of JD, said they will ramp up efforts to invest in an unmanned vehicle unit in Changsha by combining the city's advantages in chip, sensors and machine manufacturing.
The e-commerce behemoth has been investing heavily in intelligent logistics operations by using drones, robotics and driverless vehicles for parcel delivery, aiming to bring down costs and transform the logistics industry.
It used drones to deliver packages in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, during its June 18 shopping festival last year, and carried out smart robot deliveries at several universities, such as Renmin University of China, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University.
In September, the e-commerce giant said it has developed two models of automatic light electric vans with SAIC Maxus and Dongfeng respectively, for the delivery of goods from JD's distribution centers to delivery stations.