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Thursday, 14th April 2016
In General Japan News,

Trial in Japan uses drones to deliver goods

An initiative to test the viability of using drones to deliver goods to customers has begun in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture.

It is the first time that such a trial has been carried out in an urban area and see packages loading onto the devices at shopping centres and flown to nearby apartment buildings.

The first demonstration took place at the Aeon Mall Makuhari Shintoshin, reports Asahi Shimbun, where representatives from the complex and the press gathered on the rooftop.

A bottle of wine was attached to the drone and flown to a nearby park without any problems.

The next mission for the drone was a package of medicine, which was delivered to the roof of an apartment block not too far away.

While these assignments are relatively short, it is thought the solution could become more widespread in future.

The trial has seen representatives from the Japanese government, Chiba city and the company that developed the drone, ACSL, all working together.

Chiba city is the perfect place for this type of work, as in December it was designated a special drone zone.

This means it is not subject to the same rules as the rest of the country when it comes to the flying devices.

It would be almost impossible to develop this technology and test its abilities without such an area having been created.

Drone delivery is an area that prime minister Shinzo abe is taking very seriously.

In November, he said: “We will aim to make parcel delivery by drone a reality, as soon as three years from now. For this purpose the government will immediately establish the Public-Private Council, in which users and the relevant ministries and agencies will discuss the specific structural and systemic requirements.”

Chiba city hopes to launch a full service drone delivery service by 2020, according to reports in the Japan Times.

One of the ways that this plan is to be put into place is by all new residential buildings to be constructed with a drone landing area on every balcony.

As the trial continues, there are various issues that need to be fine tuned and overcome. These include ensuring they can work in bad weather conditions and an air traffic control system to ensure drones don’t collide with each other or static objects.

These latest tests come in the wake of another trial that was carried out in Tokushima Prefecture, which delivered food parcels to elderly people living in rural areas.

This was fairly straightforward in comparison to a built-up space like Chiba city, where everything from buildings to electricity wires can get in the way.

Technologists in Japan are not the only people working on drone delivery solutions, with Amazon having announced its plans for a similar programme in the future.

Related news stories:
First criminal trial held in Japan for more than 50 years (3rd August 2009)
Japanese hospitals to trial new test for Down's syndrome (30th August 2012)