Beijing-based e-commerce giant JD.com is expanding its drone delivery network outside of China and into Southeast Asia. This week, the company said it completed the first government-approved delivery-drone test flight in Indonesia, which sets the stage for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) delivery network in the region.
The test, which took place on Jan. 8, consisted of delivering backpacks and books to elementary-school students from Jagabita, Parung Panjang – near Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia – to a village in the province of West Java, about 100 miles southeast. See the video, below:
JD.com has invested heavily in autonomous delivery, both in the air and on the ground. Earlier this month, it expanded its network of driverless robots for last-mile deliveries in China.
The initiative underpins JD.com and JV partner JD.ID’s goal of being able to deliver 85 percent of orders, either same-day or next-day.
Drone technology, while limited by weight restrictions and flight-time duration, is ideal for carrying smaller cargo loads to remote areas that cannot be accessed by ground transportation, making it a viable option for delivery of e-commerce orders and emergency aid supplies – especially for a nation like Indonesia, made up of more than 16,000 islands, where the last mile of logistics is a particularly challenging puzzle to coordinate.
“These tests are an opportunity for Indonesia to become a leader in the Southeast Asia region by leveraging drone delivery to improve access to vital medical, humanitarian, and commercial goods in remote areas,” said Timothy Reuter at the World Economic Forum (WEF), taking place in Switzerland this week. Reuter is the head of “Drones and Tomorrow’s Airspace,” a project that aims to develop regulations for airspace management practices.