Innovation That Matters

Drone delivery becomes reality


Chinese delivery giant, JD, trials delivery by drone in China.


Become a member today and get early access to the ideas transforming our world from just £39 per month*

Exclusive member benefits:

  • Access to over 13,000 innovations
  • Monthly horizon scanning reports
  • Exclusive feature articles

Already a member? Sign in here

When it comes to online retail, much of its success hinges on being able to deliver cheaply and quickly: drone delivery may be the next frontier in bringing down costs. Chinese company, JD, are trialling a drone delivery service outside Suqian City in East China’s Jiangsu province.

The service currently runs between central depots and those in more rural areas, with the final stint still being run by actual people. According to the company, this final human leg is necessary to mitigate the potential danger of multiple, individual flight paths. The drones can carry up to 33 pounds in weight and travel up to 12 miles at speeds of up to 34 mph. The machines can also function in moderate rain and wind. The advantage of using the drones is a reduction in time from hours to minutes which means a reduction in cost. A drone can make the journey significantly faster than a delivery van, trundling through winding roads. “With the help of drones, rural shoppers can enjoy the efficiency and convenience of online shopping just like those in mega cities in China. And for us, using drones can significantly reduce delivery cost,” said Xiao Jun, who heads up JD’s X Lab, a business unit dedicated to adopting cutting edge technology into logistics.

Dubbed the Chinese Amazon, the company’s drones can halve the current cost of delivery. We have already seen drones used for tasks as varied as mapping disaster zones and vaccinating prairie dogs . We have also seen a company gearing up to offer insurance for drone flights. Where next for drone technology?


Download PDF

Springwise Services:
Our expertise in spotting the latest innovations is the best resource to empower your team’s future planning.

Find out More