Dada teams up with JD on autonomous grocery deliveries

  • August 3, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

China’s local on-demand delivery and retail platform Dada Group has teamed up with JD Logistics and autonomous delivery vehicle developer White Rhino to establish an autonomous delivery ecosystem for supermarkets.

Dada’s autonomous delivery operation open system has already been adopted by Seven Fresh and Yonghui Supermarket to normalise the scalable use of unmanned vehicles for an on-demand delivery service.

Dada Now, Dada’s on-demand delivery platform, has leveraged its proprietary software and technologies for on-demand delivery and online shopping to develop the autonomous delivery operation system for unmanned delivery vehicles in supermarkets.

The system has realised automatic order distribution for supermarkets, and can manage package loading, terminal connection and abnormal order operation through its human interaction system to assist unmanned vehicles in efficiently fulfilling online orders.

Dada Now’s autonomous delivery operation open system has already been applied by Seven Fresh and Yonghui’s unmanned vehicles to cover a dozen neighbourhoods, fulfilling nearly 5000 orders with driving distance over 10,000km.

The demand for online grocery delivery service is growing fast in China. According to iResearch, consumers are increasingly embracing on-demand consumption, with the most commonly purchased categories including fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat and eggs. This rapid growth in on-demand delivery, rising labour costs and a shortage of couriers have at times led to difficulty in fulfilling orders quickly for consumers. The unmanned delivery vehicles provide an alternative to address these problems.

Compared with traditional delivery, unmanned vehicles have lower delivery cost, larger carrying capacity, stronger stability and higher safety for one-hour delivery. For example, the manufacturing for JD’s autonomous delivery vehicles includes over 50 processes and over 140 checks for quality to ensure its stability. And the vehicles support scheduled delivery, in which customers can designate times for the vehicle to come to their neighbourhoods.

The unmanned vehicles can be deployed in extreme weather conditions, as well as peak and out-of-business hours to complete delivery missions autonomously when the availability of delivery riders is limited.

The on-demand delivery industry has become more open and collaborative as an ecosystem. Technology is playing a core role to help partners collaborate through digital platforms, and to optimise operational efficiency. As the establisher of an unmanned delivery ecosystem, Dada also aims to link its upstream and downstream partners, and scale up the R&D of the software and infrastructure for autonomous delivery services as part of its latest effort to accelerate the transition to the era of smart delivery.

To expand its unmanned delivery network, Dada Now, JD Logistics and White Rhino plan to bring unmanned delivery to the daily lives of China’s urbanites.

“On-demand delivery is one the first application scenarios where unmanned delivery vehicles are commercialised,” said Jun Yang, CTO of Dada Group. “We are confident that the combination of Dada’s system for autonomous delivery and our partners’ highly intelligent delivery vehicles will enable sweeping delivery cost reductions, make our roads safer, lower carbon emissions, and bring greater value to retailers and business partners.”