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Autonomous Drones Will Fly in Japan Thanks to Rakuten and JD.Com

JD.com has set the tone for 2019 by moving aggressively with their plans to expand drone delivery wherever their customers may be, and now that will include shoppers in Japan. JD.com recently announced a partnership with tech company Rakuten, Inc. Together, they will combine experience, data, and technology on drones to expand autonomous networks and integrate with mobile applications.

Rakuten is known in the Japanese business world for their solutions to autonomous drone technology, and have worked for corporations and local governments alike. After starting operations in 2016, Rakuten had developed the capability for autonomous delivery. It was the first of its kind in the country and stood as an example of what is technologically possible to consumers and retailers alike regardless of where they are.

Rakuten’s Koji Ando, Group Managing Executive Officer, confirmed the partnership and expressed the company’s eagerness to work with one of China’s biggest online retailer. Ando is tasked with working with their new corporate partner in the hopes of increasing the speed on current autonomous projects to roll them out sooner than originally planned. Ando’s statement went on to state that beyond the benefit JD.com’s partnership brings to Rakuten, Japan’s logistics sector and the government can hope to benefit from these developments as well.

JD.com has been in the drone game a bit longer. China has a competitive environment of online marketplaces, and since 2015 JD.com sought to out maneuver them with expanded drone deliveries. They even managed to be first in reaching certain remote locations in rural communities. Succeeded at that challenge opened the doors to a test flight in Indonesian airspace, setting up not just drone deliveries in another country but reaching out to all of Southeast Asia.

Jun Xaio, the President of JD-X, a logistics laboratory for JD.com, stated that the challenges awaiting in Japan are necessary for the advancement of the technology. Xaio’s statement went on to state that this partnership with Rakuten will prove useful for pushing what’s capable with drones to reach high into Japan’s mountainous regions and even out to its many remote island territories with the use of expanded autonomous networks.

Learn More: cn.nytimes.com/technology/20180619/google-china-jd-com/