Current and Future Operational Structure

Continuous Accumulation and Evolution Toward Commercialization of Drone Delivery

Remote Operation, Monitoring, Out-of-sight Flight, Automatic Navigation

Most people assume drones are manually controlled by a radio (piloted aircraft), especially for such use cases as small aerial photography drones and the like. The drones dedicated to logistics operated by NEXT DELIVERY, however, utilize mobile communications and an operation management system to achieve out-of-sight autonomous flight, automatically navigate a predetermined flight route according to a predetermined flight plan, and are remotely monitored and remotely piloted.

Specifically, the operation management system enables remote confirmation and monitoring of the following four points

1. Monitoring of ground conditions and safety confirmation using the drone’s onboard camera (FPV)
2. On-time GNSS monitoring of the drone’s position along the flight route set by latitude and longitude
3. Monitoring the aircraft status during takeoff, flight, and landing
4. Monitoring the battery status, and other relevant data

NEXT DELIVERY’s operation team staff, who are qualified as Unmanned Aircraft Pilots (First and Second Class) from its home base in Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture, act as remote pilots to remotely monitor and remotely conduct NEXT DELIVERY’s operations throughout the country.

“Level 3.5” Flights Helps Makes Significant Progress Toward Commercialization of Drone Delivery

Flight Level 3.5, which was newly established in December 2023, requires an Unmanned Aircraft Pilot License and requires carriage of insurance, but frees operators from measures such as the placement of assistants and signs through use of digital technology, such as using on-board cameras to check for pedestrians, among other measures. Level 3.5 also facilitates flights that involve crossing roads, railroads, and other thoroughfares. That, coupled with the greatly simplified flight and operations requirements, compared to the previous system, means drone operation cost reductions and increased operational efficiency. All of this is a significnat move toward the commercialization of drone delivery.

At NEXT DELIVERY, flights of Flight Level 3.5 are conducted in multiple locations, and are currently operated and monitored remotely from Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture by a “remote pilot” who is a Second Class Unmanned Aircraft Pilots (not restricted by visually). Local operations are now being conducted by locally hired part-time workers (assistants), rather than by professional pilots, to achieve greater efficiency and lower operating costs.

In the Future, the Multiple-aircraft Operations Will be Possible

Currently, one remote pilot remotely controls and monitors one aircraft, but NEXT DELIVERY is building a system that will allow a remote pilot to monitor the operations of multiple aircraft in the future. Once this is achieved, it will be possible to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs.