Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has said that it has used drones to deliver packages over water for the first time.
Three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carrying six boxes of passion fruit with a combined weight of around 12 kilograms flew from Putian in China’s eastern Fujian Province to nearby Meizhou Island on October 31, the company said in a statement.
Flying into a strong wind, the drones took nine minutes to make the five-kms crossing. Each drone can carry up to seven kilograms, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing the statement.
The drones were jointly developed by Alibaba’s delivery arm Cainiao Network, the company’s rural shopping platform Rural Taobao, and a domestic technology firm.
Alibaba plans to use drones to deliver high value-added products such as fresh food and medical supplies over water in the future.
Zeng Jinmei, an online store owner based on the island, was quoted by news agency PTI as saying that the drone delivery service will cut the transportation time by half and save logistic costs.