Drones aren’t expected to start regularly delivering packages in the U.S. until 2020.
While drones in the United States won’t start delivering parcels on regular routes for a few years, in China it’s already happening.
JD.com, one of the largest online retailers in China second only to Alibaba, started its drone delivery program last year, flying parcels via unmanned aircraft to four provinces: Jiangsu, rural Beijing, Sichuan and Guangxi.
In those provinces, JD has regulatory approval to fly its drones, but this year the company is working to get approval from more local governments across China to expand its drone service. Right now JD offers drone delivery to about 20 fixed routes. By the end of 2017, though, the company aims to have 100 delivery routes open across the country.
JD designed its own aircraft, and there are five different types of drones that are used depending on the size of the parcel.
“We try to deliver with drones from cities to the countryside,” explained JD’s CEO Richard Liu. “In every village, we have a delivery man who lives in the village, and he will take the parcels