The Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com is planning to deliver a ton of stuff—literally—by drone.
The Chinese online shopping giant Jingdong, or JD.com, is the biggest e-commerce company after Alibaba (BABA). JD.com is planning to massively ramp up heavy-load drone delivery across a northern Chinese province.
The company said it is testing out the world’s largest-scale drone delivery network so far. Furthermore, they plan to see their drones deliver products weighing as much as a metric ton, or about 2,200 pounds. The company will target deliveries to more rural areas of the country’s northern Shaanxi Province.
Already operating 40 drones in four provinces —Beijing, Jiangsu, Guizhou and Sichuan—the company wants, among other things, to deliver products to local farmers and bring produce and fruits to consumers in Shaanxi before they spoil. Spoilage is more likely if produce is shipped by trucks along rough country roads.
Heavy drone loads come with some potential problems. They require highly stable and therefore more expensive machines, and a larger place to land. Also, while the lighter load drones drop off parcels in a yard for someone to pick them up and take them to homes, the heavy ones will be dispatched to warehouses.