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Companies joins Japan's delivery robot race with Rakuten deal

Chinese e-commerce group looks abroad as fight for domestic shoppers intensifies

Rakuten will use robots to test last-mile deliveries in Japan. (Photo by Konosuke Urata)

TOKYO/HONG KONG -- Chinese internet group on Thursday said it will test driverless deliveries with Japanese peer Rakuten, hoping to take a first step toward expanding its robotics business internationally.

China's second-largest e-commerce company will provide delivery robots -- drones and unmanned ground vehicles that are equipped with cameras and sensors for self-navigation -- to Rakuten, which will use them to test last-mile deliveries in Japan. operates more than 100 drones and 50 driverless ground vehicles in China, according to Xiao Jun, who leads the company's robotics division.

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