JD.com’s logistics arm delivered the first batch of goods to a hospital in Wuhan on Thursday via its inhouse level 4 (L4) autonomous delivery robots, according to an announcement on the company’s WeChat account on Friday.
The logistics unit added that it will open its L4 autonomous driving solutions to other robot makers, to enable more unmanned delivery beyond its own robots’ handling capacities in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and epicenter of the novel coronavirus.
Level 4 refers to “high driving automation,” which means that no human intervention is needed as long as the system is operating within a certain geofenced area, according to the international professional association of automotive engineers (SAE).
One video shows a self-driving four-wheeled delivery robot riding a 600-meter distance to reach the Wuhan Ninth Hospital to deliver the goods, while another video shows the robot’s ability to avoid other vehicles in the dark.
Earlier information disclosed by JD.com on its website reveals that one robot can carry up to 30 parcels. The company has said via a press release on Friday that it will allow these robots to transport larger boxes in the future to respond to the hospital’s needs. Upon the robot’s arrival at its destination, it will send a message to the recipient’s phone with a collection code, which can be input to release the package.
JD Logistics said in a WeChat post that it has started to prepare its unmanned delivery service soon after the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, and has been transporting delivery robots from regions outside the city. The firm has finished testing these robots and finished setting their delivery routes in Wuhan on Tuesday, KrASIA reported earlier.
The firm revealed that more robots will start delivering goods to hospitals and enclosed neighborhoods in the city, without revealing the size of the fleet.
The firm has made it a priority to deliver goods to medical institutions since January 22, positioning itself as a major participant from the logistics sector in the fight against the virus, which has sickened 31,215 individuals, by Friday noon, claiming the lives of 631 patients.
JD.com said on its website that it has transported more than 2.36 million medical and epidemic prevention supplies, including masks, medical gloves, goggles, disinfectants, and other products to major hospitals in Wuhan, Huanggang, and other places in Hubei province as of February 2.