Achievements/case studies

Drone Use as Disaster Prevention Response Chichibu City

Aeronext completes “Level 3” remote-controlled, unmanned landing site regular operations using Starlink at the end of March for the “& Project” to make regular deliveries of goods to the disaster-stricken area in Chichibu.

Aeronext participated in the “& (and) Project” (a project to conduct regular deliveries of goods by drone in the Nakatsugawa area of Chichibu City, which is still affected by landslides) and conducted regular deliveries of goods by drone in the Nakatsugawa area of Chichibu City (from January to March 2023). This initiative utilizes AirTruck, a logistics drone developed by Aeronext, as well as using the satellite broadband service Starlink to provide stable communications in an environment where mobile communications had previously been unstable. This was combined with the KDDI SmartDrone operation management system for remotely controlled operations. This operation was handled by subsidiary NEXT DELIVERY, which delivered supplies weighing approximately 100 kg in total on a total of 28 flights over a 5.6 km route.

This project demonstrated the potential use of drones dedicated to logistics in providing services to residents in depopulated areas and for disaster prevention purposes. In particular, the project succeeded in transitioning to out-of-sight flight, in that the landing site was virtually unattended with the package recipient assuming the role of an assistant. This confirmed the possibility of reducing human labor requirements for drone deliveries.

This initiative is the first case in Japan of regular delivery of goods by drone in the event of a disaster.

Staff attaching boxes containing groceries and daily necessities ordered by residents to the drone (Takeoff point outside the landslide


Dates2023年1月26日(木)~3月30日(木)まで ※1週間に1回(木曜日)のドローン配Thursday, January 26, 2023 to Thursday, March 30, 2023 *One drone delivery per week (Thursdays).
AreaNakatsugawa, Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture
Drone Flight Distance5.6 km (round trip)
GoodsFood, beverages, seasonings, household goods, newspapers, medicines, Chichibu City PR papers, circulars, etc.
Number of Households6 (6 people)
Total 28 flights, total weight of goods delivered…approx. 100 kg *Delivered up to 4 kg of supplies per flight.

Level 3 Operations (unmanned zone, out-of-sight flight), remote operation for delivery

Beginning with the delivery on Thursday, March 2, the operation was shifted from “Level 2” to “Level 3” operation. No engineers or pilots were deployed at the landing site, and the operation was conducted remotely from Tokyo. The person receiving the cargo (Nakatsugawa Ward Mayor) personally set up a rope to alert third parties that no one was allowed within a 30-meter radius of the landing site, and then the drone took off, landed, and unloaded the cargo while confirming the status of the landing site via a three-way call between the Nakatsugawa Ward Mayor, a remote operator in Tokyo, and staff at the takeoff site. The drone then flew back to the takeoff point. The Nakatsugawa Ward Mayor received the drone-delivered packages and then personally delivered the goods to each household that placed an order.

Nakatsugawa Ward Mayor picking up a drone-delivered package after safety check (Landing point inside the landslide area)

Residents in the Nakatsugawa area commented that the once-weekly regular deliveries were one of the things they looked forward to, easing their anxieties and giving them a sense of comfort.

The operational know-how and achievements gained through this project will not only be used in the new smart logistics SkyHub® that Aeronext and NEXT DELIVERY are currently developing as a service for residents in depopulated areas that face challenges in maintaining infrastructure, mainly in the areas of daily transportation and logistics, but we will also pursue and advance the possibility of using the system for contingency and disaster prevention purposes.