A subsidiary of SF Holdings, which owns giant courier firm SF Express, has been granted the first license for delivering goods via drones. Testing of drones for logistics is already underway by several companies in China including retailer JD.com, which opened its own first UAV distribution center the previous day, but this is the first time that a company will legally be able to make real deliveries to customers.

The East China Regional Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China gave a provisional (or pilot, if you will) license to Jiangxi Fengyu Shuntu Technology Company, a subsidiary of SF Holdings on 27 March according to Xinhua (in Chinese). The permit allows the company to make deliveries.

SF Express intends to create a three-stage airborne delivery network. Firstly planes will transport large quantities of goods nationwide, then large drones will distribute goods locally and small-scale UAVs will make deliveries to customers.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...