About five years ago, the use of drones for delivery was something out of a sci-fi movie, but today, the Chinese government has approved a service called SF Express for delivery of packages in the country. SF Express, the country’s largest logistics firm, stated last month that its subsidiary Fengyu Shuntu Technology had been approved by the Chinese government to be the first ever official drone package delivery service in China. This announcement came after several drone tests that started in June last year.
The company’s objective is to deliver goods to rural and urban areas with unmanned aerial vehicles. They will create a delivery process that’s based on three stages:
Stage 1 – Movement of goods nationwide by planes
Stage 2 – Warehouse distribution with drones
Stage 3 – Small drones will deliver goods directly to customers
The company has been working hard to make drone delivery a reality. Back in 2013, a drone belonging to the company was seen carrying packages in the city of Dongguang. Now that they’ve officially received their license, they are allowed to fly in China’s eastern airspace. There are some other conditions attached to the license, but at the moment these details are not fully clear.
Over 80% of the logistics business in China takes place on the east coast, so the company is definitely strategically located. In the meantime, several of the tests carried out were in rural areas or in locations where these types of deliveries could easily be achieved. Some people wonder what the usefulness of this service would offer bigger cities, where there are many alternatives for efficient delivery.
Chinese companies are scrambling to offer their services via drones, simply because of China’s ecommerce boom. When you consider the size of the nation and many rural areas, the need for faster package deliveries to these areas – with no human capital cost – is very tempting indeed. In the province of Zhejiang, an ecommerce agent for Alibaba, Cainiao, recently utilized drones in delivering tea leaves across mountain slopes straight to centers where these goods were processed which helped speed up the delivery times. The move came on the heels of earlier tests carried out to deliver packages to people residing off the coast of Fujian province. This is just the beginning of drone deliveries and we can certainly expect to see more companies around the world follow suit.