Floatplane-like drone developed, makes test flights in Fukushima

24 May 2019

Tokyo-based startup firm Space Entertainment Laboratory has succeeded in developing a fixed-wing aerial drone capable of flying from and landing on the surface of the sea or a river, according to the company. It has an agreement with Minamisoma city, Fukushima Prefecture, on the development of industry and human resources related to drones.

On May 23, flight tests were conducted over the Haragama-Obama bathing beach in Soma city. The company is seeking to commercialize the floatplane-like drone within the next fiscal year, beginning in April 2020, in anticipation of applications in the fisheries industry such as fish detection, marine salvage and water quality surveys.

A fixed-wing drone that can take off from and land on the water surface is rare globally, according to the company. It used the prefectural government's subsidy program for regional revitalization projects in developing the craft. The body of the drone is made of carbon fiber that has strong impact resistance. It is about 2 meters long, with its main wing about 3 meters long, and weighs about 15 kilograms. The company plans to strengthen its waterproof property and take other measures to improve the product ahead of its commercial use.

The company is set to hold drone classes for grade and junior high school students in Minamisoma while engaging in technological development together with local firms. "We would like to send out information on globally applicable leading-edge technology from Minamisoma to the rest of the world," said Masata Kaneda, 35, president of Space Entertainment Laboratory.

【Photo】 Fixed-wing drone makes test flight over water surface off Haragama-Obama bathing beach in Soma city, Fukushima Prefecture.

(Translated by Kyodo News)