Autonomous delivery vehicles from Chinese e-commerce retailer JD.com hit the streets of Tianjin this morning, in support of the Chinese city’s “smart city initiative.” And while it’s just JD.com’s wheeled autonomous delivery vehicles (pictured below) at this stage, the Chinese retailer says it will soon start testing its own robots and flying drones as well.
JD.com hopes to apply its big-data collection and analysis services, artificial intelligence (A.I.) and other technologies to support Tianjin’s smart city initiative.
The concept of smart cities has gained currency over the last decade. While evading precise definition, the term suggests a strong government backing for the implementation of advanced IT to solve and manage everything from governance to public life and recreation. Smart cities tend to be regarded as more efficient, cleaner and more attractive to the sort of high-tech companies that governments want to attract.
If that’s all starting to sound like marketing hype, you’re not wrong, but the latest news out of Tianjin suggests a more concrete strategy to integrate tech into urban life.
“Tianjin offers a range of real-world applications for our technology, and this cooperation will enable us to increase efficiency and convenience for the city’s residents, while providing unlimited scenarios for us to continue to improve our technology and increase its future potential,” said Jun Xiao, vice president and head of JD X, JD.com’s logistics innovation lab.
As part of the agreement, Tianjin will serve as a research, manufacturing and testing base for JD.com’s smart logistics technology. JD.com and its local state investment partner, the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA), are concurrently pledging support in “advanced tech industries, including robotics, A.I., smart manufacturing, smart cities and smart ports.”
Those interested in learning more about how emerging technologies will impact the airfreight industry are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2018 in Shanghai 23-25 April at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong, where a round table panel will be dedicated to the topic. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com