- A new JD.com research center in China will study technology solutions for urban logistics, the company announced Thursday.
- The Urban Smart Logistics Institute will first examine underground logistics and using tracks and pipe corridors to fulfill and deliver parcels, "ensuring smooth and efficient urban logistics with minimal disruption to daily life."
- JD.com said the underground solution has the potential to alleviate traffic and environmental problems and save urban space.
Increased freight transportation on the roads, along with passenger traffic and urbanization, is leading to congestion nightmares in cities around the world.
Traffic jams create headaches not only for drivers and passengers stuck in what seems like perpetual traffic, but also for businesses trying to fulfill the last mile.
In searching for solutions to this challenging final leg of the supply chain, some companies have looked up (literally) for urban deliveries — utilizing drones to deliver parcels to consumers. JD.com claims it was the first e-commerce company to launch commercial drone deliveries.
Now the e-retailer is looking down, researching how parcels can be delivered through underground networks, taking trucks and vans off the roads.
Director of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Chen Xiangsheng called underground logistics "an industry game changer."
While JD.com's institute will initially research subterranean logistics in urban areas of China, the findings and lessons can no doubt be applied to cities outside of the country, including dense metropolitan areas in the U.S.