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Chris Bell

JD Showcases AI Technology Using Drones and Robots To Aid in Deliveries During Corona Virus Outbreak



Since late January 2020, the capital of Hubei Province in central China has been on lock down due to the outbreak of the highly infectious corona virus. When it will reopen remains uncertain, with talk of the disease, and all the consequences that have come with it, being the main talking point in households all around China. 

Using its advanced technology that they’ve been developing and refining over the last years, Jing Dong (JD) is helping to reduce human to human contact by using drones and robots for the final leg of deliveries. Using sophisticated technology, these mechanical objects are able to safely go into places where most humans do not dare. JD, founded by Richard Liu, is making history as the first company to do this in an attempt to curb human interaction and keep the illness, which has now been spread to more than 77,000 people and taken the lives of 2,500 in less than three months. In addition to using drones, JD is employing its self-driving vehicles to get medical supplies and daily necessities to areas that have been closed down, first in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. 

To prevent the corona virus from spreading even further, which would have easily happened as the first large outbreak which occurred right before China’s biggest holiday of the year, the seven-day-long Chinese New Year was extended, and then mass travel bans were put in place. By early to mid-February, local governments placed restrictions on citizens, allowing for one family member to go grocery shopping once a week. Malls, clothing stores, book shops, and other providers of non-essential goods remain closed. This increases the demand for online retailers like JD. 

Among the things that JD.com is doing to support relief efforts is donating supplies for patients and front line medical workers. Masks, feminine products, and massage chairs are just some things that they have donated. They are also helping other businesses, organizations, and people transport the items that these groups are donating. Among them have been medical supplies and fresh fruits to help nourish the doctors and nurses who are working long hours with no breaks during their grueling and dangerous shifts. 

JD was also one of the main transport companies helping deliver building materials to the infamous Huoshenshan Hospital, which was built in just a week in order to provide more hospital beds to patients. 

Thanks to their automated warehouses JD can keep with the demands of online orders 24/7. With most people under, at minimum, self-quarantine, the need for deliveries is only increasing by the day. On average, orders have nearly doubled since the Chinese New Year, with some of JD’s partner suppliers experiencing as much as a 400% increase in sales. JD is helping its sellers, many of whom only had enough product in warehouses for a month, or were short-staffed due to the holiday, by communicating with them and using their logistics systems to restock products. JD is also providing services like AI customer support to sellers for free right now. This will help ease the economic impact that the corona virus will take on the country. 

As they refine their AI and delivery systems during what’s being called a “special time,” consumers can expect that these smart machines continue to be employed to save on delivery time and costs, especially in the mountainous regions where rocky terrain and non-paved roads make it a challenge to get supplies to remote areas.