Chongqing inches closer to ‘half-day arrival’ with maiden flight of logistics drone

Specifically, it will take steps to realize intra-city smart logistics, cargo transportation between urban and rural areas, and inter-city "half-day arrival" -- meaning order fulfilment within half a day, instead of the mainstream "same-day arrival."

Chongqing in southwestern China yesterday completed the maiden flight of a homegrown unmanned delivery drone, making significant strides toward one day achieving what it says is “half-day arrival” in logistics service.

On October 22, a large-sized unmanned aerial vehicle, code-named FP-981C, took off from a general-purpose airport in Yongchuan, a district of Chongqing.

Laden with cargo, the aircraft hovered in mid-air for a while, switched between modes of propulsion, and headed north.

FP-981C, a “lift and cruise” eVTOL model, possesses both fixed-wing and multi-copter structures. With a wingspan of 9m and a body length of 5.5m, the drone has a maximum take-off mass (MTOM) of 400 kg, a load capacity of 100 kg and a range of 100 km.

This is the first time that Chongqing conducted a test flight of a domestically built UAV for the transportation of cargo in a pilot scheme.

The manufacturer of the aircraft, SF UAS (顺丰无人机), the UAV affiliate of Chinese delivery giant SF Express and headquartered in Chongqing, described this flight as a “huge success,” as this is the first-ever eVTOL-style drone to be applied in mid-to-short-haul logistics within Chongqing.

“This is the first time SF UAS experienced a verifcation flight in Chongqing for logistics purposes, without relying on the runway,” Wang Renlong, deputy general manager of SF UAS. “It met needs for cargo delivery and emergency transportation under complex environments.”

Wang added the aerial vehicle also proved it can adapt to Chongqing’s topography marked by mountain, hill and river.

Screenshot from Chinese media video

Chongqing, a pilot area for UAV innovations

Chongqing is chosen by the state as a pilot area for innovations in both aerial logistics and civilian unmanned aviation.

In recent years, the city has been making efforts to innovate the applications of indigenous general-purpose aircraft, expand the use cases for drones and related equipment, and encourage the agglomeration of drone and other general-purpose aviation technologies.

Building on the success of FP-981C, Chongqing said it will adopt a top-down approach to promote innovative aviation and drone products according to two official documents.

What’s more, the city also intends to introduce measures aimed at spurring the commercialization of its UAV technologies.

Specifically, it will take steps to realize intra-city smart logistics, cargo transportation between urban and rural areas, and inter-city “half-day arrival” — meaning order fulfilment within half a day, instead of the mainstream “same-day arrival.”

Moreover, Chongqing will explore ways to give priority to emergency response, firefighting, and forestry units to purchase its UAV products and services as well as encourage producers of drone engine and other supporting equipment to lease key components under a rental model.

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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, Trip.com 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 nitao0927@gmail.com.

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