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JD.com and Rakuten partner to use delivery robots and drones in Japan

By teaming up with the Japanese e-commerce giant, JD.com will see its drones and unmanned vehicles become part of Rakuten's own unmanned delivery service efforts.

Chinese e-commerce company, JD.com, is taking its drone delivery system to Japan after forging a partnership with Rakuten Inc.

By teaming up with the Japanese e-commerce giant, JD.com will see its drones and unmanned vehicles become part of Rakuten's own unmanned delivery service efforts.

By adopting robotics, the firms hope to save the time, cost and labour involved in parcel shipments.

Tokyo-based Rakuten has conducted a series of autonomous parcel delivery trials since 2016 in a bid to tackle the “last mile” of the supply chain.

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JD.com Vice President, Xiao Jun, said that there are “many opportunities” for drone deliveries in mountainous areas and remote islands in Japan.

“The unmanned drones and vehicles are just the first step in the Japanese market and we would like to cooperate with other leading Japanese companies in product development and application,” he added.

JD.com has operated drones in its native China for a number of years, launching the world’s first commercial drone delivery in 2016.

 Koji Ando, Group Managing Executive Officer of Rakuten, Inc., added: “We are delighted to begin this collaboration with JD.com, which boasts the most cutting-edge proprietary delivery network in China as well as a track record and know-how in delivery with drones and UGVs,”

“By utilizing JD.com’s drones and UGVs with the unmanned delivery solutions created by Rakuten, we hope to accelerate innovation in the Japanese logistics sector and contribute to building a society that can offer greater convenience to all citizens.”

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