China's Suning Logistics, a subsidiary of Suning Holdings group, has signed a strategic partnership with tech giant Baidu Apollo to accelerate the commercial application of self-driving technology which could see the mass production of unmanned delivery vehicles as early as 2020.
Suning and Baidu, announced the partnership at the 'Baidu Create 2018' event in Beijing and also unveiled an unmanned delivery vehicle dubbed the 'MicroCar.'
Equipped with Baidu's L4-class intelligence system, the MicroCar has been designed to solve what Suning describes as "the last 5km delivery problems.”
Suning also introduced its smart logistics system, which includes terminal delivery scenarios providing opportunities for the self-driving technology of Baidu Apollo to be put into commercial use. Suning's terminal delivery scenarios include: Smart Community (unmanned delivery car + automatic picking-up cabinet); Local Instant Delivery (Suning convenience store + unmanned delivery car); and Mobile Distribution (unmanned distribution car + fixed distribution route).
Suning plans to bring the self-driving technology into commercial use first in its Local Instant Delivery services. Currently, Suning convenience stores provide delivery services within 3km and the unmanned self-driving delivery vehicle will be a supplement to couriers, enabling a 24-hour delivery service.