AI News, Yet Another Drone Delivery Trial, This Time in Asia

Yet Another Drone Delivery Trial, This Time in Asia

For the next few days, Alibaba’s major online marketplace Taobao will be delivering small packages of ginger tea to 450 paying customersin Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai, by drone.

The BBC published an article on the Alibaba drone delivery trial, along with commentary from an expert that echoes everything that everyone who knows anything about drones has been saying ever since Amazon and Google came up with this stuff: One expert said it would be wrong to dismiss [this] as a PR stunt, even if drone-based deliveries were still years away from becoming the norm.

After a bit more digging and some sketchy Google translation, I found this page, which seems to suggest that for these 450 deliveries, “staff will preset destinations and routes, [and] the UAV [will] automatically deliver.” To me, that suggests that what’s really going on here is that Alibaba employees will carefully createflight plans with GPS waypoints and altitudes so that the drones fly mostly over open spaces anddon’thitbuildings, power lines, bridges, antennas, cell towers, trees, or other things on their path.

Would it be crazy to suggest that this feeds into the potential for abuse of consumer drones, when consumers see big companies going, “oh, yeah, we can totally fly our big cargodrones through your neighborhood to your doorstep, it’s safe, we got this, don’t worry about it!” It’s certainly possible that over the next few days, we’ll see some video showing the entire end-to-end process, with happy customers receiving packages of tea on their doorsteps.

Alibaba Takes Amazon’s Drone PR Stunt To Next Level With Limited, 3-Day Pilot

In a PR stunt reminiscent of Amazon’s Black Friday drone revelation in 2013, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has revealed that it is dabbling with drones with a teeny, tiny pilot program.

This campaign is clearly more about style than substance, but the fact that Alibaba — which, of course, held the world’s largest IPO last year — is testing drones is significant, and clearly a sign of the future — just don’t expect the firm to hit the switch for all deliveries any time soon.

Drones are delivering ginger tea in China

Alibaba is using an army of drones for deliveries of online orders of tea in China.

The online retailer, which held the world's largest IPO last year, has just released a video that shows a thirsty customer desperate for a cup of tea.

In the footage, she orders online, her packet of ginger brew is packed and attached to a drone, which then flies off to her aid in no time.  'Today, we find the answer to the imagination,' reads a translated press release on the Taobao website.

Indeed, a company spokesman told TechCrunch that the 'campaign is an effort to bring unique and innovative shopping experiences to consumers on Alibaba's e-commerce system,' which very much sounds like PR spin.

Alibaba begins drone delivery trials in China

China's biggest internet retailer says it has begun testing drone-based deliveries to hundreds of customers.

Alibaba is using its drones to deliver orders for a specific type of ginger tea, helping limit the maximum weight of the packages to 340g (12oz).

The Tech in Asia blog, which was one of the first to report the development, said the experiment was being undertaken by Alibaba's Taobao division - an eBay-like marketplace that connects third-party sellers and buyers - and would involve 450 shoppers.

'That said, which company will actually roll out a fully functioning drone-based delivery service remains to be seen and [such a deployment] is still a long way off.'

However, its ambitions were threatened last week by a high-profile spat with one of China's regulators, which alleged that Alibaba had not done enough to tackle the sale of counterfeit goods on Taobao, letting this 'abscess fester until it became a danger'.

video released by Alibaba indicates it will use quadcopter drones that fly far beyond the sightlines of their operators, travelling over roads, rivers and buildings before landing in open spaces close to apartment blocks.

Alibaba begins drone delivery trials in China

China's biggest internet retailer says it has begun testing drone-based deliveries to hundreds of customers.

Alibaba is using its drones to deliver orders for a specific type of ginger tea, helping limit the maximum weight of the packages to 340g (12oz).

The Tech in Asia blog, which was one of the first to report the development, said the experiment was being undertaken by Alibaba's Taobao division - an eBay-like marketplace that connects third-party sellers and buyers - and would involve 450 shoppers.

'That said, which company will actually roll out a fully functioning drone-based delivery service remains to be seen and [such a deployment] is still a long way off.'

However, its ambitions were threatened last week by a high-profile spat with one of China's regulators, which alleged that Alibaba had not done enough to tackle the sale of counterfeit goods on Taobao, letting this 'abscess fester until it became a danger'.

video released by Alibaba indicates it will use quadcopter drones that fly far beyond the sightlines of their operators, travelling over roads, rivers and buildings before landing in open spaces close to apartment blocks.