- 25 February 2016
- Transport / Logistics Services
Tokyo based technology company Mikawaya21 and the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism have run tests that use drones for parcel deliveries in the Tokushima Prefecture on the 24th February. This is the latest in a number of government supported drone tests in Asia.
According to the Japan Times, the test was designed to see if drones can be used to deliver food parcels to elderly people living in rural areas. A drone carrying milk, bread and other items was flown over a distance of around 500 metres at an altitude of 150ft across crop fields. On its return journey it carried more food and equipment designed to measure the impact of take offs and landings. It was carried out in Naka.
According to the newspaper, a Transport Ministry official said that they were 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”.
Given that there are real regulatory concerns about flying drones in urban areas, the idea of flying them in rural areas could be the answer to marketers’ dreams who seem to envisage parcels flying around to drop goods to people’s doors. In this case however, there is the issue of the human side of food deliveries to the elderly, who may not otherwise get much contact except when their Meals on Wheels delivery arrives during the day. There will also be safety concerns with the recipients who may be more vulnerable than others to the propeller blades of the devices.
Japan isn’t the first country to try this in South East Asia. Singapore has recently announced a partnership with BAE to test the systems for flying items out to ships in the bay. Again Singapore seems to be avoiding the issues of flying them down city streets.