Alibaba tests delivery drones in China

Amazon mooted drone delivery the year before last but Alibaba has stolen a lead and actually started testing the technology in China this week.

Yesterday, with partner Shanghai YTO Express, Alibaba began a drone delivery trial for taobao.com customers in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

If a customer orders a type of ginger tea and are located within 1 hour’s flying time of the warehouse, they will be offered a drone test if the the package weighs less than 340 grams. This, apparently, will number about 450 shoppers over the three days of the drone test.

It will be interesting to hear how this test goes and whether drones could be a genuine part of future delivery options. It seems more like a publicity stunt than a real plan. In the UK and the US certainly, regulatory issues make it a somewhat unlikely possibility.

That said, Amazon have opened a drone research department in Cambridge. So who knows?