Alibaba is deploying 1,000 bots across Chinese university campuses and urban communities to deliver packages to online shoppers. The bots will pick up parcels at a local courier drop-off point and make their way to customers’ doors.
“Imagine a robot riding the elevator up your tower block, knocking on your door, and delivering the package you ordered an hour earlier: That’s the future of e-commerce in China,” the company wrote on its blog on Monday.
Alibaba said the delivery bots can deliver about 50 packages at a time and as many as 500 boxes in one day, covering 100 kilometers on a single charge.
China’s e-commerce market is the largest in the world and its growth has stimulated the swift development of logistics to fulfill customers’ orders, according to the company.
Alibaba is one of many companies trying to solve challenges posed by “last-mile delivery” – getting online orders from shipping hub to the customers’ front door. The ecommerce company said its algorithm plots the fastest route for the robot – with the added advantage of not stopping for a smoke break, like human drivers may do.
In fact, Alibaba believes its algorithm is strong enough so that it won’t need expensive, high-definition sensors that some companies’ prototypes need to navigate.
The full post is on the Alizila blog along with a video showing the delivery bots in action.