JD.com and Rakuten combine forces to become drone powerhouse in Japan

JD.com and Rakuten have signed an agreement that will see JD.com’s drones and autonomous delivery robots utilized in Rakuten’s unmanned delivery solutions in Japan.

The agreement will see Beijing-based JD.com combine its expertise in developing drones and autonomous delivery robots with Tokyo-based Rakuten’s expertise in drone delivery service operations in Japan, such as its dedicated shopping apps.

The two e-commerce companies will also collaborate on Rakuten’s lineup of unmanned delivery services to suit a wide range of applications and situations.

“We are delighted to begin this collaboration with JD.com, which boasts the most cutting-edge proprietary delivery network in China as well as a track record and know-how in delivery with drones and UGVs,” said Koji Ando, the group managing executive officer at Rakuten.

“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.”

“We have been using drones and autonomous delivery robots for real deliveries in China for over two years,” added 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 autonomous 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.”

Both companies also 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.

In January, JD.com claimed to have successfully pulled off a government-approved drone delivery in Indonesia, believed to be the first in South East Asia.

The test flight took place on January 8 in West Java, Indonesia, where the drone flew from Jagabita Village, Parung Panjang to MIS Nurul Falah Leles Elementary School to deliver backpacks and books to students. The items delivered by drone were part of a larger donation of supplies from JD.com to the school.

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