13 January 2017
An unmanned aerial drone flew over a preset coastal route of about 12 kilometers in Minamisoma city, Fukushima Prefecture, on Jan. 12 in a delivery experiment conducted jointly by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Fukushima Prefecture and other parties. It was the first time in the world that an "unmanned autonomous-controlled flying" drone delivered an object on a programmed route exceeding 10 km, according to the prefectural government.
The drone took off with a flask of hot soup from the Murakami castle ruins in the city’s Odaka district and traveled at a speed of about 40 km per hour along the Pacific coast under blue skies, arriving on the Kitaizumi bathing beach in the Haramachi district in about 15 minutes. Waiting surfers took delivery of the soup and enjoyed it.
The experiment capitalized on the "Fukushima Hama-Dori Robot Testing Zone" scheme in which the prefecture offers testing space for robots and drones in the Hamadori coastal region. The drone used for the test was a model measuring 1 meter in diameter, developed by Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd., a venture company based in Chiba city east of Tokyo. "We would like to establish drone technology and send out relevant information to the rest of the world, touting Minamisoma as an advanced robot development hub," said Kenzo Nonami, chief executive officer of the company and special professor at Chiba University. He is known as a leading researcher on drone development.
(Translated by Kyodo News)