Middle Eastern e-commerce company Noon buys 5,000 self-driving vans from Chinese startup Neolix to deliver grocery

This huge fleet will help solve logistics challenges in hot and dry climates.

Photo: provided to company with the press release

Dubai-headquartered e-commerce site Noon.com has ordered 5,000 autonomous driving vehicles from Beijing-based Neolix Technologies, 36Kr reported on Thursday.

Starting from the fourth quarter of this year, some of these vehicles will be used in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates first to deliver parcels ordered by Noon’s customers. They’ll also be used as moving retail cars.

Neolix told 36Kr that the penetration rate for e-commerce in Dubai is relatively low, partly because it’s so dry and hot that logistics costs are multiple times higher than those in China. High logistics costs are the main reason behind its cooperation with Noon, the largest e-commerce platform in the Middle East.

More vehicles will later be placed in Saudi Arabia and some North African countries.

This move allows Neolix to further commercialize its autonomous driving vehicles and enables it to sharpen its knowhow. As more cars are put into use, more real-world problem will emerge and can thus be fixed.

Neolix is not alone in applying autonomous driving vehicles in the logistics sector.

US startup Gatik has started to transport customer online grocery orders from Walmart’s main warehouse to its neighborhood stores in Bentonville, Arkansas in self-driving vans.

San Diego- and Beijing-headquartered autonomous trucking unicorn TuSimple has been working with the United States Postal Service, for whom its self-driving trucks have been delivering mail since May.

Hong Kong-based startup AutoX has just closed its Series A financing round, bagging USD 100 million from investors led by Alibaba. The startup has also planned to apply its autonomous driving solutions to the logistics sector since it has joined the Chinese e-commerce giant’s ecosystem.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company