From the land that uses geese as police dogs and names its children after the Olympic Games comes something even more bizarre. A drone that can deliver packages weighing as much as one tonne. Thanks, China.
China’s second-largest ecommerce giant, JD.com, is planning to deliver items to the more rural areas of the country.
The firm’s Chief Technology Officer, Chen Zhang, said, “So today, as you have seen in China, e-commerce is huge, but in remote villages most people are not benefiting from e-commerce. So, to solve that problem, we will develop our drone program.”
JD.com has been working on said drone program since October 2015 in its JDX innovation lab and started trialling flights a year ago.
But really? One whole tonne? Know what sort of stuff weighs that much? Here’s a short but alarming list.
A small car. A wild boar. A bull shark. A lead coffin. A baby giraffe. One cubic metre of water. Whale testicles.
Now try to imagine some of those things being transported over your head suspended beneath a tiny Hindenburg replica. Then imagine being crushed by a whale’s reproductive system falling from the sky. Hell’s teeth.
The system is currently in operation or being tested in four provinces: Beijing, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Jiangsu, the company said.
The company’s drones can fly up to 100km per hour, which is officially a world record for a pair of whale testicles. They can go around 100km before recharging. That’s the drones, not the gonads.
But a launch date could be some way off yet. Chen has bemoaned the industry’s ongoing troubles with battery power. He said, “The battery cost today is still very high. It’s a major issue we need to address.”
But JD.com isn’t the only company looking to speed baby giraffes across the sky. Amazon is hooking up with the UK government to test drone deliveries. The delivery behemoth recently designed a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) with robotic wingtips and legs that can land on uneven surfaces.
The US-based e-commerce giant is opening a 60,000-square-foot development centre in the UK focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and drone delivery research.
Keep watching the skies.