Suning Logistics, a subsidiary of Chinese commercial giant Suning Holdings Group, has completed driving tests for its autonomous heavy-duty truck, “Strolling Dragon,” in Shanghai, marking another milestone in the company’s plan to offer fully-automated logistics solutions.
Strolling Dragon is the largest unmanned truck in Suning Logistics’ automated fleet, featuring SAE Level-4 self-driving capabilities; it is highly automated, and is able to operate without human input within pre-programmed parameters. It is the first self-driving truck developed by a Chinese e-commerce company to pass logistics campus tests and highway-scenario road tests in China.
Using artificial intelligence and deep-learning technologies, in conjunction with sensors, Strolling Dragon can accurately recognize obstacles at a distance of more than 300 meters, even at high speed. In addition, the unmanned truck can make emergency stops, or avoid obstacles at a response rate of 25 ms, allowing for safe autonomous driving even at a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).
Strolling Dragon is part of Sunning's strategy to provide fully-automated logistics solutions powered by AI. The company launched its Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) warehouse ahead of the “11/11”, or “Singles Day” shopping festival in 2017, providing a “goods-to-people” solution instead of the traditional “people-to-goods” model. As a result, the time spent selecting an item from shelves during the fulfillment process has been shortened to 10 seconds—five times more efficient than manual work.
In April, Suning Logistics rolled out its “Biu” autonomous delivery robots, which can work around the clock to deliver goods directly to customers. With the expansion of its robot warehouse networks, as well as its drone delivery network that has started normal operation, Sunning Logistics is building a logistics chain that is increasingly automated.
Suning’s plans call for drivers to be assisted rather than replaced, for the foreseeable future. The relatively complex and tiring job of long-distance driving puts drivers in high risk of accidents, while automation helps reduce such risk. With the help of self-driving technology, Suning Logistics can help create a more comfortable, and safer, working environment for the more than 100,000 truck drivers working for the company.