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Alibaba entrusts its last mile delivery to its autonomous robot, Xiaomanlv

Céline Delacharlerie
3 minutes

Alibaba, the benchmark for e-commerce in China, has developed an autonomous robot called Xiaomanlv to support last mile delivery. Already present on 200 university campuses across the country, the robot has completed more than 10 million deliveries and it is not likely to stop.

The Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, launched in September 2020 an electric robot called Xiaomanlv which means “competent little donkey” in Mandarin. This robot aims to cover the last mile of delivery which costs around 28% of the total delivery cost. Thanks to the Xiaominlv robot, Alibaba managed to save a significant amount of money.

Launched on the occasion of Double 11, a day of sales equivalent to Black Friday in China, the robot has been deployed in more than 200 university campuses throughout China. Today, the fleet of 500 robots has completed more than 10 million deliveries. The goal is to deploy more than 1,000 on 500 university campuses before the end of the year.

These robots, developed by the Autonomous Driving Laboratory at Alibaba’s institute of technology and science, DAMO Academy, can carry approximately 50 packages at a time and travel 100 kilometers without needing to be recharged. In addition, these robots can navigate alone 99.9% of the time without human intervention thanks to an algorithm that finds them the most efficient delivery routes. efficient.

In addition to the efficient, practical and economical aspect, these robots represent a secure delivery solution, especially during the pandemic. With the health crisis, autonomous delivery was the best solution for apply barrier gestures. When there were logistical problems in Shanghai due to health restrictions, more than 20 robots were used to deliver 600,000 orders to residents locked in their homes. them.  

The development of the robots, the tests that need to be carried out, the manufacturing of the robots and mapping the neighborhood for the robots is a colossal investment, but seems to pay off and please consumers with 98% recovery rate satisfied.

Today, deliveries made by Xiaomanlv robots are Amazon-type e-commerce deliveries. Over time, Alibaba wants to develop self-delivery to deliver food, groceries and even medicine.

What are the stages of delivery?

1. Wait for delivery orders

At the very beginning of the delivery cycle, the robots wait patiently at the warehouse before going to deliver their order.

2. On the way to delivery

When an order is placed, the nearest warehouse receives this information. Employees must place the order in one of the robots before sending it out for delivery.

3. Avoid obstacles

On its way, the robot is autonomous and able to avoid all obstacles, such as cars, pedestrians, vegetation, poles and others.

4. Arrive at destination

Once its path is completed, the robot arrives at the delivery location. He will wait there until the customer comes to pick up his order.

5. Get your order

When the customer arrives to pick up their order, they must interact with the robot. These robots are equipped with facial recognition so that customers can collect their order safely without worrying about a theft.

Céline Delacharlerie
Celine is the correspondent of the Echangeur in China. On the lookout for retail innovations, she identifies and analyzes the latest retail and consumer trends in Asia.
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