Tech in Asia — When you hear ecommerce executives talking about drone delivery, they’re usually referring to flying drones. But after several years of test projects, we’re still not much closer to getting our goods delivered via the air. Chinese ecommerce giant JD announced on Thursday that it’s taking a different approach. The company has just begun testing a new unmanned delivery drone that (as you can see) looks more like a small van than a quadcopter.
Enterprise Innovation — Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. recently announced the launch of Sora Raku, a drone delivery service for consumers on golf courses. The service will be available starting Monday (9 May). The drones will be used to deliver golf equipment, snacks, beverages and other items to players at pickup points on the golf course.
SCMP — FedEx, the world’s biggest express delivery company with more than 600 planes, is not too hot on the idea of drone delivery even though some Chinese companies including SF Express and Taobao are toying with the idea.
At CES on Tuesday, Chinese social media giant Tencent made a surprising announcement: it’s launching a drone called “Ying.” Produced in partnership with Zerotech (a Chinese drone company that makes quadcopters), Tencent’s new flying friend will allow users to live-stream video in 720p directly to WeChat or QQ.
The National — DUBAI // Airborne drones will form part of security patrols around Dubai Silicon Oasis free zone technology park, the authority said on Tuesday. A security team is currently authorised to operate one drone that patrols the development. Four more machines will be added by the end of the year. Equipped with a high-resolution camera and super-sensitive microphone, the drones will record audio-visual data and capture still photographs of specific locations.
Times of India — SINGAPORE: Singapore Post said it has used a drone to deliver mail to an island community, joining other postal services such as Finland which are testing unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages. The test flight took five minutes and carried a letter and a T-shirt for a total distance of two kilometres (1.24 miles), Singapore Post said.
Want China Times — With lackluster sales in the global tablet market, Chinese manufacturers have been looking to expand into the development and production of smartphones, wearable devices, vehicle navigation systems and, in particular, drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the first half of this year, reports Shanghai’s China Business News.
Police in the Indian city of Lucknow plan to use pepper-spraying drones to control crowds. The government has bought five drones capable of spraying pepper powder on crowds, city officials told wire services. The government has already test-flown the drones and plans to use them from later this month. The drones have high-resolution cameras and can fly within a one kilometre radius of the operator.
Monitoring tasks and assets in an environment of ever-increasing complexity and speed is a big challenge for businesses and governments. But the tools available to manage that complexity are also advancing. Real-time tracking of objects and people, mapping their locations and building software on top of this data is the sweet spot for Jakarta-based startup TerralogiQ. The company sets up customized dashboards from which clients can monitor the whereabouts and performance of their assets.
Japan has robot chops aplenty. Honda has the world’s most sophisticated humanoid robot, Japanese industrial robot makers are among the best, and the country’s space agency landed a robot probe on a speeding asteroid and returned samples to Earth. But when it comes to drones, Japan is almost a nonentity in a rapidly growing market. The odd made-in-Japan drones show up at tech trade shows in Tokyo, but these are usually for research purposes and are exhibited by small startups or university groups.
Alibaba is now in the testing phases of delivering packages by drone, according to a post on Taobao’s website (h/t 36kr). Bringing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ dream into reality, Alibaba’s major online marketplace Taobao has partnered with Shanghai YTO Express to run a test program from February 4 to 6.
Drones flown by both the ABC and Telstra will add a bird’s-eye view of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks to TV and online broadcasts tonight. The national broadcaster is touting its live-to-air drone-filmed coverage of the 9pm and midnight fireworks as an “Australian television first”. It plans to send two purpose-built quadcopters equipped with HD cameras and broadcast links 1000 ft above Sydney Harbour, which will feed live video to feature in its annual New Years Eve broadcast, alongside footage from nine harbourside cameras and a manned helicopter.