How emerging technologies are shaping China's logistics industry?
Cutting-edge technologies have been shaping China's logistics sector these days, among which AR (Augmented Reality) is definitely a key emerging trend.
A worker scan bar codes on parcels with the help of AR glasses, in a warehouse [Photo: sohu.com]
Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com set up an AR laboratory last year. It plans to apply the technology to its logistics business, and help it manage inventory in the near future.
Back in 2015, Cainiao Network, a logistics company launched by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, built its E.T Logistics Lab, in which AR tech was an important research area.
AR glasses are used to help guide workers through the warehouse, making it possible to read information on parcels while wearing the smart glasses.
"Augmented reality blurs the line between what's real and what's computer-generated, by enhancing what we can see," according to howstuffworks.com.
In addition to virtual reality, the application of robotics is also an emerging field in the logistics sector.
Alibaba's "Xiao G" ("Little G") delivery robot
"Xiao G" ("Little G") delivery robot developed by Cainiao Network, a logistics company launched by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group [Photo: cqnews.net]
Cainiao Network announced the developed of its "Xiao G" ("Little G") delivery robot in 2016.
Chen Junbo, chief designer of the robot, says he hopes Xiao G can ease the pressure on couriers in the future.
One-meter-tall Xiao G can load 10 to 20 parcels. The robot collects parcels from nearby distribution centers and can choose the best routes to deliver the packages.
It can also take elevators by itself.
When a customer signs for their parcels, Xiao G checks how many parcels are left, if someone tries to take more than is theirs Xiao G can raise an alarm.
Shentong's robots sorting system
An army of little orange robots from the Chinese delivery firm Shentong sorting packages at a warehouse [Photo: dav01.com]
Chinese delivery firm Shentong has been using robots at its sorting stations to sort parcels.
The orange robots are able to identify the destination of a package through a code-scan, and this virtually eliminates sorting mistakes.
The self-charging robots can operate 24/7 and sort a maximum of 200,000 packages per day.
It's estimated that they can help the firm save about 70-percent of the costs, a human-based sorting line would require.
Staff from JD.com using drones to deliver parcels to rural shoppers [Photo: news.zol.com.cn]
In recent years, Chinese retailers and express companies have been investing in drone delivery systems to access customers in rural areas.
In April, JD.cpm announced its plans to build 150 drone launch centers in southwest China's Sichuan province in the near future.
JD.com kicked off its trial operation of drone delivery in June last year. As of last November, its drones had made more than 1000 trips.
Its self-developed drones are able to fly up to 10 kilometers to deliver parcels from a distribution center to neighboring villages.
The delivery program can deliver parcels through drones to Jiangsu province, rural Beijing, Sichuan province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Back in 2013, Chinese delivery service company SF Express started to test drone delivery.
The company says that it had applied for, or obtained 111 patents in this field by February.