China-based Suning Holdings is trialing unmanned last-mile delivery of online purchased merchandise items to buyers in place of conventional delivery by couriers to avoid possible coronavirus infections via person-to-person contact, according to China-based media reports.
The entire delivery process except the last-mile delivery is already highly automated, including automated sorting and loading of merchandise items and automatically assigned logistics cars for transportation to local distribution centers.
Suning began experimenting last-mile delivery using autonomous vehicles in 2018, and is now trialing autonomous vehicles equipped with a 5G-based tracking system for delivery to buyers within 3km, the reports said.
But Suning Technology, Suning Holdings' subsidiary which develops automated logistics technology, indicated that it is technologically difficult to realize completely unmanned last-mile delivery for the time being, the reports said.
Suning's subsidiary e-commerce operator Suning.com has seen online sales value hike 419% since the outbreak, the reports said.