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Partnership could see mass production of unmanned delivery vehicles by 2020
Suning Logistics has signed a strategic partnership with Baidu Apollo to accelerate the commercial application of self-driving technology which could see the mass production of unmanned delivery vehicles as early as 2020. The two parties also unveiled an unmanned delivery vehicle dubbed the ‘MicroCar’. Equipped with Baidu's L4-class intelligence system, the MicroCar has been designed to solve what Suning describes as ‘the last 5km delivery problems’.
Suning also introduced its smart logistics system, which includes terminal delivery scenarios providing opportunities for the self-driving technology of Baidu Apollo to be put into commercial use. Suning's terminal delivery scenarios include: Smart Community (unmanned delivery car + automatic picking-up cabinet); Local Instant Delivery (Suning convenience store + unmanned delivery car); and Mobile Distribution (unmanned distribution car + fixed distribution route).
Suning plans to bring the self-driving technology into commercial use first in its Local Instant Delivery services. Currently, Suning convenience stores provide delivery services within 3km and the unmanned self-driving delivery vehicle will be a supplement to couriers, enabling a 24-hours delivery service to better serve the local community.
In 2018, Suning Logistics has made huge investments in self-driving commercialisation, launching a number of unmanned logistics facilities. In May, Suning successfully completed a road test of its heavy-duty self-driving truck ‘Strolling Dragon’, the first self-driving heavy truck developed by a Chinese eCommerce company to pass logistics campus tests and highway-scenario road tests in China. In April, Suning officially launched its Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) warehouse in Jinan, providing a ‘goods-to-people’ solution which uses robots to shorten the pick-up and select process in the warehouse to 10 seconds, five times more efficient than manual work.
The partnership with Baidu Apollo is part of Sunning's strategy to provide fully automated logistics solutions powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Sunning says it will continue to collaborate with technology firms to build a smart logistics system in which self-driving trucks, automated vehicles and robots work seamlessly to complete the delivery job for humans.