Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism at the end of last month, carried out joint tests using drones with Tokyo-based company Mikawaya21, for parcel deliveries in the Tokushima Prefecture. The step follows right on the heels of a partnership agreement signed between Airbus Helicopters and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to conduct trials using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for parcel deliveries in Singapore.
While the Skyways Project of CAAS-Airbus Helicopters is still in the planning and development phase for the first trial, the tests in Japan were designed to see if drones could be used to deliver
food parcels to elderly recipients living in rural areas.
According to a report in the Japan Times, a drone carrying bread, milk and other items flew for about 500 metres at an altitude of around 50 metres over crop fields. On its return journey, the drone carried more food and also equipment designed to measure the impact of take-offs and landings.
Cater for ‘shopping refugees’
The newspaper quoted a Transport Ministry official as saying that they are looking to see if drones could “address the shortage of delivery truck drivers, reduce time and costs, and be a relief for seniors in thinly populated areas who have become shopping refugees.”
In a related development in the US, the University of Memphis and the FedEx Institute of Technology announced that they will stage a Commercial Drone Expo on the University's campus on April 9 to highlight the commercial applications of drone technology. In a statement, the University of Memphis said: “The unlimited potential that drones and the affiliated technology presents, open opportunities for entrepreneurs and researchers to engage in new and exciting avenues of partnership.”
Nol van Fenema