(Yicai Global) March 27 -- China's second-largest e-commerce firm JD.Com Inc. has put its first unmanned aerial vehicle distribution center into operation after completing successful trials on the southern island province of Hainan.
A drone left the distribution center in the provincial capital of Haikou yesterday morning to deliver the first package after the facility's opening, online news portal Sina Tech reported. The Beijing-based company plans to roll out more UAV distribution centers across the island to deliver more packages, said Wang Yu, a director at its logistics unit.
Hainan's unique terrain is ideal for testing airborne distribution, Wang added, saying the firm can trial deliveries to remote areas and between islands and prepare for uncommon scenarios such as emergency relief.
JD.Com plans to roll out drone distribution nationwide in the future, Chairman Liu Qiangdong said at the World Economic Forum in Davos two months ago. He hopes to build tens of thousands of drone ports across the country to offer 24-hour delivery to shoppers.
The company's pilot scheme prioritizes rural areas and delivers to more than 30 villages in Suqian in Jiangsu province and Xi'an in Shaanxi province. The firm obtained approval to carry out trials for UAV distribution throughout Shaanxi last month.