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 Chinese retail logistics company first plans to bring the self-driving technology into commercial use with 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. This will enable a 24-hour delivery service to better serve the local community.
Lu Junfeng, vice president of Suning Logistics, commented, “By combining the rich smart community scenarios built by Suning, and the advanced unmanned self-driving technology developed by Baidu in its Apollo program, we are now significantly closer to realizing the commercialization of fully autonomous, self-driving technology.
“In the future, with continued in-depth cooperation between Suning and Baidu, a new form of smart logistics community will better benefit the public by making their lives even easier.”
In 2018, Suning Logistics has heavily invested in self-driving commercialization, 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 e-commerce 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 that uses robots to shorten the warehouse pick-up and select process to 10 seconds. This is five times more efficient than manual work.
The partnership with Baidu Apollo is part of Suning’s strategy to provide fully automated logistics solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Suning 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.
Suning and Baidu have 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’.