Japanese electronic commerce and internet company Rakuten and California-based drone operations business AirMap have launched an unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform for Japan that connects drone operators with airspace managers.
In October, Rakuten began delivering food via drone in Northern Japan. The new service lets drone operators search for areas where drones are permitted to be flown, log their flight plans, view relevant rules, and check weather data. It was developed by AirMap, a partner with Rakuten in the Rakuten AirMap joint venture that was established in March 2017.
To assess the service, drone operators use an app and the Airspace Management Dashboard, which is aimed at airspace managers. Using the dashboard, managers can set airspace boundaries for flight zones in addition to any related rules. They can also approve flight-plan submissions and communicate with drone operators via SMS.
In addition to food in northern Japan, Rakuten has supported a number of experimental drone deliveries including snacks and golfing goods at a golf course in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo.
Hideaki Mukai, CEO of Rakuten AirMap, commented, “We’ve heard from many drone operators who are eager to fly but they’re not sure if they can and where they have to apply to get permission. We want to solve these issues with IT, open up the skies to drones, and enable communication between operators and airspace managers.”
Ben Marcus, AirMap’s CEO, added, “Japan’s drone ecosystem is thriving. Drones are already being put to work to assist with commerce, agriculture and other critical industries, and drone deliveries will soon be a reality even in Japan’s densest areas.”
December 12, 2017