China’s first commercial self-driving trucks begin operations

Partnership between China Post, Deppon Express and FABU technology reportedly delivers 60,000 packages in peak period

A China Postal Express & Logistics’ EMS driverless truck being loaded up as part of the trial in Zhejiang (Credit: FABU)

China Post and Deppon Express have begun autonomous package delivery services with the first self-driving vehicles to be put into daily commercial use in China. The delivery trucks will operate on autonomous driving technologies developed by FABU Technology.

Starting in November 2018, FABU partnered with China Post and Deppon Express to begin testing Level 4 autonomous driving trucks in China's heavily populated Zhejiang Province. In Level 4 autonomous driving, the car handles the majority of driving situations independently although a human driver can still take control when needed.

In total, a press release stated that the trucks drove over 2,200 miles and delivered over 60,000 parcels during China's peak shopping season, which includes Singles' Day, Christmas and Chinese New Year.

According to FABU the trucks averaged 40-mile daily round trips along three different routes, with one delivery route passing through 50 intersections, 26 of which were controlled by traffic lights. The trucks drove both in daylight and at night, and on highways, through tunnels and along residential streets filled with pedestrians, schools and flea markets. Since the self-driving tests were conducted in winter, these Level 4 trucks also had to drive their routes during weather conditions such as rainstorms, snow and fog.

"We are very excited that FABU technology is at the heart of the first autonomous delivery trucks in China," said Xiaofei He, founder and CEO of FABU. "China Post and Deppon have also been very pleased with the performance of FABU self-driving technology in their trucks and plan on expanding their autonomous delivery services to 100 routes in the near future."

With the increase in online shopping and a shortage of truck drivers, these companies believe that self-driving trucks will help them save on operating costs in the long run, said He. They estimate that their initial investments in vehicular hardware systems will be recouped in one year.

China Post, the state-owned enterprise that operates the official postal service of mainland China, employs 860,000 employees in over 82,000 post offices and branches. The service operates over 39,000 transport vehicles, which travel over a delivery network with 1,926,250 miles of streets and highways. Deppon Express is a leading logistics company in China, with operations in Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Deppon Express operates 10,000 retail offices across China's 34 provinces.

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