Inspire 1 Drone Officially Debut In Shenzhen
Ginger tea like you've never known it before, courtesy of Taobao Photograph by ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Alibaba to test drone delivery in three cities

Feb 04, 2015

Alibaba Group Holdings (baba) is making good on the vision Amazon's Jeff Bezos has yet to get off the ground: drone delivery.

The Chinese e-commerce giant said it would test drone delivery in three Chinese cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, starting Wednesday. The test run, which enables 450 customers to receive one package of ginger tea via its Taobao.com platform, is in partnership with courier Shanghai YTO Express, which has long offered same-day delivery but never drone drop-offs.

Before the one-time drone tests the two companies downplayed the possibility of rapidly expanding drone delivery in statements. Like U.S. officials, Chinese regulators have been cautious about rapidly expanding drone capabilities in the country for reasons including security—China restricts the majority of its air space for military use, a frustrating truth for many private air travel companies looking to expand and take advantage of growing wealth in China.

However, the tests move Alibaba ahead of international rival Amazon.com (amzn) in the race for ever-more improbable delivery options.

Watch more about companies testing drone deliveries from Fortune's video team:

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