Alibaba’s logistics unit Cainiao is speeding up the development of driverless delivery vehicles. On April 19, the company released photos from the road test of its self-developed driverless van. According to local media reports (in Chinese), the company said autonomous driving in logistics has matured, and they plan to start putting their commercial mass-produce driverless delivery vans on the road by this year.

Cainiao’s self-developed driverless van (Image Credit: Wan Lin’s Weibo account)

On the same day, Cainiao’s president, Wan Lin, said on his Weibo account that Cainiao is optimistic about implementing driverless vehicles in logistics. Lin touted, “Cainiao ET lab is not setting a limit on the number of new recruits, we want all the big shots!” Established in 2015, Cainiao ET lab is the company’s R&D unit that focuses on the development of emerging technology and applications in logistics.

(Screenshot) Wan Lin’s Weibo post

A Cainiao employee revealed that Zhang Chunhui, former president at Alibaba’s YunOS, was recently appointed to head Cainiao ET lab. YunOS’s operating system is used to connect cars to cloud services such as entertainment and navigation.

Alibaba  acquired a controlling stake in Cainiao last September and pledged to invest $15 billion to expand its network. Alibaba’s annual results show that 81% of all items sold through Alibaba-owned sites were delivered via Cainiao.