News Article

China Focus: Driverless delivery vehicle to steal the thunder of "Double Eleven" shopping festival
/ Categories: News

China Focus: Driverless delivery vehicle to steal the thunder of "Double Eleven" shopping festival

For most Chinese consumers, the annual "Double 11" festival, or the Chinese version of Black Friday, means a simple tap of the finger to buy goods at attractive prices and awaiting their arrival.

But for deliveryman Feng Haibin, the online shopping spree, which falls on Nov. 11, and days before and after it could be both exhausting and daunting. During the past six "Double 11" festivals, Feng, who works in Yangquan City in north China's Shanxi Province, had to get up by 6:30 a.m. every day and dispatched more than 1,000 packages in less than a fortnight.

This year, a new addition to Feng's team has alleviated his workload, and he no longer has to grapple with such an overwhelming volume of packages alone.

This new teammate is a driverless delivery vehicle equipped with L4 autonomous driving technology, similar in size to a Smart model of Mercedes-Benz.

Boasting a capacity of 600 kilograms, the driverless delivery vehicle can travel at a speed of 15 kilometers per hour, and deliver nearly 800 packages a day.

"This little 'colleague' can help me reduce my working time by an hour and more than 30 percent additional packages can be delivered every day," said Feng. "Now, I no longer have to worry about the workload during peak season like the 'Double 11' festival or the Spring Festival."

In 2022, China's express delivery volume exceeded 110 billion items, ranking first in the world for the ninth consecutive year. The use of driverless technology can undoubtedly boost the market scale.

In Yangquan, home to 1.3 million people, 12 driverless delivery vehicles have been actively delivering packages for the past six months. Together, they can deliver close to 10,000 items daily.

"Each of them is equipped with two laser radars and 11 cameras, which enable them to sense traffic lights, vehicles and pedestrians within 120 meters. They are also equipped with a chip which allows them to automatically plan routes under different road conditions," said Cui Yu, a local operator of the driverless vehicles.

According to him, when a driverless vehicle passes through populated areas, it automatically reduces its speed and broadcasts voice alerts to pedestrians in the vicinity. In the event of sudden obstacles such as children or dogs, the vehicle can engage emergency braking, with a braking distance within 1 meter at a speed of 15 kilometers per hour.

In extreme situations, a human operator can shift to real-time remote control of the vehicle using 5G signals.

Shi Yue, who works at the R&D department of the driverless vehicle at Neolix Technologies Co., Ltd, said that the successful operation of the vehicle in a mountainous city like Yangquan proves that it can be used in most cities. In fact, in metropolises like Beijing, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, there are more driverless delivery vehicles on the road.

"I had only seen such driverless vehicles before on school campuses and in industrial parks. I didn't expect to see one in the city streets," said a woman surnamed Wu from Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, a place known for cutting-edge technologies. It is estimated that by the end of this year, hundreds of driverless delivery vehicles will be put into use in the city.

Zhao Xinsui, vice president of Neolix, noted that their products have already been exported to 12 countries in Asia, Europe and other continents, and used in local communities and hospitals, among other places.

In addition to companies like Neolix that focus on driverless vehicles, e-commerce giants such as, Alibaba and Meituan are also actively developing driverless delivery products. The China International Capital Corporation forecasts that China's driverless delivery market could reach 170 billion yuan (about 23.3 billion U.S. dollars).

Thanks to technological advancements and a comprehensive industrial chain integrating 5G communication, automobile manufacturing and the computing industry, the cost of driverless delivery vehicle production in China has continued to decline.

According to Shi, since the first batch of driverless vehicles rolled off production lines in 2018, the maximum design speed has been increased from five kilometers per hour to 60 kilometers so far, the number of laser radars reduced from five to two, and the cost of one vehicle has come down by more than 50 percent.

In terms of operation of the driverless technology, this "Double 11" festival holds considerable significance.

"The man-machine collaboration model will be the general trend of logistics industry development, which could greatly help lower the cost and improve efficiency," said Zhao, adding that they will continue improving the comprehensive performance of the products and provide services to more users around the world. 

This photo shows driverless delivery vehicles during a road test at Neolix Technologies Co., Ltd in Beijing, capital of China. 

This photo shows driverless delivery vehicles during a road test at Neolix Technologies Co., Ltd in Beijing, capital of China.​

XinhuaShen Yi

Other posts by Xinhua
Contact author
blog comments powered by Disqus

Contact author