Chinese online retailer JD.com plans to roll out a drone that can carry packages weighing as much as 200 kilograms for long-distance deliveries.
Developed by the Beijing-based company, the new drone VT1 with a hybrid gas-electric engine is 3.4 meters long and can cover a 200-kilometer radius, according to JD.com.
JD.com said the new drone was in testing. The drone service will transport goods between distribution stations rather than to customers directly.
Xiao Jun, vice president of JD.com, said the VT1 could carry heavier parcels and travel over a longer time. The drones will not be affected by traffic congestion and can improve delivery efficiency and save logistic costs.
JD.com started conducting trial deliveries using drones in 2016. Smaller drones are being used in the city of Xi'an in Shaanxi Province and the city of Suqian in Jiangsu Province.
From June to July 31, the delivery drones, which can carry items weighing between 15 kg and 30 kg, have flown more than 800 times and traveled over 4,000 km in Xi'an, according to the company.
JD.com announced in May that it planned to invest 20.5 billion yuan (3 billion U.S. dollars) over the next five years to build a logistics hub in Xi'an.