China Post matches L4 self-driving vehicles with robots to enhance logistics

Compared to existing forms of last-mile delivery, the integrated solution employed by China Post is able to increase efficiency by more than 50%. It is even 30% more effective relative to similar means of "smart logistics," a China Post-affiliated newspaper reported, without specifying.

China Post (中国邮政), the country’s state postal service provider, began to leverage a combination of autonomous driving and robotics to upgrade its delivery capabilities on June 16 at its headquarters in Xicheng District of Beijing.

In a pilot aimed at promoting wider adoption of robotics to automate the traditional postal business, China Post paired outdoor autonomous vehicles with indoor robots.

By coordinating their operation, the state courier operator has built a new model of unmanned indoor and outdoor delivery.

China Post said in a news release that it can deploy this new form of logistics to commercial buildings, large industrial parks and door-to-door delivery, considerably enhancing the use of autonomous vehicles and robots.

Compared to existing forms of last-mile delivery, the integrated solution employed by China Post is able to increase efficiency by more than 50%. It is even 30% more effective relative to similar means of “smart logistics,” a China Post-affiliated newspaper reported, without specifying.

During a trial run between March 15 and May 19 this year, the robot-powered courier system dispatched an average 30 orders a day, with each errand taking about five minutes. The system has logged a cumulative delivery time of 3,910 minutes.

Within the system, the outdoor vehicle has L4 autonomous driving capabilities, and adopts an industry-leading modular design, where vehicle-mounted lockers and bins are detachable and replaceable depending on customized needs and scenarios.

In the meantime, based on multisource deep fusion sensing technologies, the vehicle enables precise positioning and seamless connection with indoor robots.

It comes with “quintuple safeguards” incorporating lidars, supersonic sensor, motion tracking camera, emergency stop button and soft bumper strips. There are three modes to choose from, namely, autonomous driving, on-the-spot remote driving and tele-operated driving.

Inside an establishment, a fleet of robots are on standby to pick up parcels and packages handed over by the outdoor vehicles.

Equipped with sensing, cognitive and navigation modules, the robots are smart enough to request elevator rides, pass through turnstiles and avoid obstacles inside a building on their own.

They also interact with receivers of mail or packages via text or voice messages while in action, delivering a better use experience.

With the integrated indoor and outdoor logistics solution now being applied on a pilot basis, China Post has stepped up efforts to facilitate its digital transition and build up its digital capacity.

Going forward, it will continue to optimize the robot-enabled indoor and outdoor solutions to supply shopping arcades, government halls, colleges and industrial parks with full-process smart logistics services, according to a company statement.

Additionally, the state courier operator will expand the pilot to a select few provinces and make adjustments on a case-by-case basis, taking into account customer feedback and specific application scenarios.

With the recent scheme fueling its digital drive, China Post has set sights on rolling out a new business model, featuring use of smart indoor robots to empower new retail.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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