Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA) will begin developing self-driving trucks through its logistical arm Cainiao as it looks to further its delivery operations.

The announcement was made by Chief Technology Officer Cheng Li on Thursday at the Global Smart Logistics Summit held by Cainiao in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, Reuters reported.

According to Cheng, Cainiao plans to launch 1,000 autonomous delivery robots in China over the next year.

Additional details on the unmanned trucks or the research and development program were not disclosed by the company.

However, this will be the second self-developed autonomous vehicle for Alibaba, with the first being a small, fully electric van, first launched in 2020, Automotive News said.

The van, which was jointly developed by Alibaba’s research institute and logistics unit, has been in operation at 15 universities and in major cities in China, including Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, according to Cheng.

The news from Alibaba comes as the self-driving vehicle market heats up with a series of tech firms marking their forays into the market.

One such player that eyes have been on is Apple, which has been tight-lipped on whether it has a self-driving car project in the works, but industry rumors have swirled that it is planning on making a debut in the near term. Hyundai claimed to have been in talks with the tech firm only later to retract the claim.

Self-driving truck maker TuSimple Holdings recently made a splash filing its IPO in April, while self-driving vehicle system producer Baidu has sped up its work as market demand increases, Reuters said. Toyota also recently bought Lyft's Autonomous Driving unit for $550 million in April. 

Shares of Alibaba were trading at $214.69 as of 1:51 p.m. EDT on Thursday, up 37 cents, or 0.17%.

Chinese regulators fined tech giant Alibaba 2.78 billion dollars for abusing its dominant market position Chinese regulators fined tech giant Alibaba 2.78 billion dollars for abusing its dominant market position Photo: AFP / GREG BAKER