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Drone Delivery Demonstration Experiment in Aga Town, Niigata Prefecture for Social Implementation of new smart logistics system “SkyHub®︎” to streamline regional logistics~Aeronext and ACSL jointly develop logistics drone with KDDI’s Smart Drone Tools~

Aga Town, Niigata Prefecture (Mayor: Kazuaki Kanda, hereinafter referred to as “Aga Town”), Aeronext Inc. (Headquarters: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Keisuke Toji, hereinafter referred to as “Aeronext”), Seino Holdings Corporation (Headquarters: Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, President: Yoshitaka Taguchi, hereinafter referred to as “Seino HD”), KDDI Corporation (Headquarters (Head office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President: Makoto Takahashi; hereinafter “KDDI”), ACSL Ltd. (Head office: Edogawa-ku, Tokyo; President and COO: Satoshi Washiya; hereinafter “ACSL”), and NEXT DELIVERY Corporation (headquartered in Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture; Keisuke Toji, President; hereinafter referred to as “NEXT DELIVERY”) have agreed to conduct a drone delivery experiment (hereinafter referred to as “experiment”) from March 14, 2022 to March 18, and will be conducted in Aga town, Niigata Prefecture, with the aim of building a new smart logistics system”SkyHub*1” that will improve the efficiency of regional logistics.

In this experiment, the system will collaborate with clinics and pharmacies to deliver packages of prescription drugs from pharmacies to clinics with patients who have completed medical treatment and online medication guidance. Further, daily necessities of vulnerable residents will be predicted and good from supermarkets will be delivered.

Both routes from the pharmacy to the two clinics are “unmanned, unassisted, out-of-sight flights” (hereafter Level 3 flights). One of the routes crosses a highway, the first “highway crossing” by a Level 3 flight for the purpose of transporting goods in Japan*2.

From right to left, Satoshi Washiya, President and COO, ACSL; Masafumi Hirono, KDDI (Business Development Department, Business Creation Division, Business Development Department, Drone Business Promotion Group Leader); Kazuaki Kanda, Mayor of Aga Town; Keisuke Toji, CEO, Aeronext / Representative Director, NEXT DELIVERY; Shuji Kawai, Executive Officer, Seino HD

Ms. Ito receiving online medication guidance

Ligistics Drone flying away after delivering  a package of prescription drugs

Ms. Ito checking and receivinng prescription drugs with nurse

Logistics drone flying over Agano River (Aga town, Kanose area)

Screen of flight operation system connected to KDDI’s Smart Drone Tools (when crossing the Ban-etsu Expressway)

The aircraft used for this experiment is “faster, goes farther, is more stable.” The drone is a logistics-specific drone developed from scratch jointly by ACSL and Aeronext specifically for logistics applications and is operated with KDDI’s Smart Drone Tools*3 connection.
This experiment is being conducted using the “FY2021 Grant Program to Support Sustainable Development of Depopulated Areas” from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), which was adopted by Aga Town. The project is aimed at the societal implementation of SkyHub®*3, a new smart logistics service that combines drone delivery and land transportation, which is being developed and promoted by Seino HD and Aeronext. NEXT DELIVERY, a subsidiary of Aeronext, which is primarily engaged in the drone delivery service business, will implement the project.

【Overview of The Experiment】

1.Background and Purpose
Aga Town, with a population of 10,032, is in a mountainous area with heavy snowfall. Aga Town has a declining population, as well as an aging population. In addition, many of its villages are scattered throughout the mountainous areas, far from the town center, making it necessary to provide the elderly with efficient means of shopping for daily necessities and access to medical care, often accessible only by walking.

The medical facilities are in areas far from the town center. Three town clinics have been established. The prefectural hospital and clinics collaborate to provide home-visit medical care. However, two of the clinics do not have pharmacies on premise, requiring a separate trip to a pharmacy in the town center, more than 5 km away, to receive prescription drugs. In addition, when medical care providers go to homes to provide homecare, they visit villages scattered over a wide area. After homecare visits, the elderly patients are often required to go to a pharmacy more than 20 km away to pick up medicines that the doctor or other health care provider has prescribed but not brought with them, placing a significant burden on the elderly.

The experiment will look at results with a view to societal implementation of drone logistics in mountainous areas and areas with heavy snowfall. The project will also look at efficient use of the last mile delivery network, including a survey of the needs of the town’s residents, to introduce shopping services and pharmaceutical delivery for residents, conducted by drones for use in Aga Town.

2.Details
In two areas of Aga Town (Kanose and Kamikawa areas), Karin Pharmacy will be used as a temporary Drone Depot®*4 and Kanose Clinic and Kamikawa Clinic as temporary Drone dtands®*5 to deliver medical supplies and daily necessities to residents.
In this experiment, a “dummy” prescription drug (for the purposes of this experiment a “duumy” was used for the medicines as a stand-in) was delivered from Karin Pharmacy to a patient who had first received a medical examination at the Kase Clinic and then received online medication instruction, via drone flight over 7.5 km one way in approximately 13 minutes.
Ms. Ito, who received the prescription drugs delivered by drone flight this time, commented as follows: “I usually use the welfare bus to pick up medicines, but it takes time and is inconvenient. It would be very easy if the medicines could be delivered in this way.”

After this experiment, we plan to establish a Drone Depot® and multiple Drone Depots® to consolidate the cargo of various land delivery companies and start delivery and shopping services for future drone deliveries, with the goal of establishing a new smart logistics service within FY2022 to solve issues in depopulated areas.

Reference

*1 SkyHub®︎
A new smart logistics system that connects existing logistics and drone logistics jointly promoted by Aeronext and Seino Holdings Co., Ltd., and connects the ground and air infrastructure so that goods can be delivered anytime, anywhere. It features an open platform and standardized mechanism that incorporates drone delivery and realizes joint delivery. The introduction of SkyHub will contribute to solving social issues in the region, such as population decline, labor shortage due to declining birthrate and aging population, traffic problems in specific depopulated areas, medical problems, disaster countermeasures, and measures against vulnerable logistics from the aspect of logistics reform. It is possible to raise the satisfaction level of residents and communities by improving the convenience and quality of life of residents, which is also meaningful in promoting regional revitalization.
*2 Per Research by Aeronext Inc., as of March 16, 2022
*3 Smart Drone Tools equipped drones can be operated using the “4G LTE package,” which combines the operation management system, mobile communications, and cloud computing necessary for remote autonomous drone flight, with options that suit the customer’s usage scenario. Smart Drone Tools will be provided by KDDI Smart Drone Corporation (Location: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Masafumi Hirono, to be appointed on April 1, 2022), which will take over KDDI’s drone business as of April 1, 2022.
January 28, 2022, News Release
https://news.kddi.com/kddi/corporate/newsrelease/2022/01/28/5844.html
*3 SkyHub®︎
A new smart logistics system that connects existing logistics and drone logistics jointly promoted by Aeronext and Seino Holdings Co., Ltd., and connects the ground and air infrastructure so that goods can be delivered anytime, anywhere. It features an open platform and standardized mechanism that incorporates drone delivery and realizes joint delivery. The introduction of SkyHub will contribute to solving social issues in the region, such as population decline, labor shortage due to declining birthrate and aging population, traffic problems in specific depopulated areas, medical problems, disaster countermeasures, and measures against vulnerable logistics from the aspect of logistics reform. It is possible to raise the satisfaction level of residents and communities by improving the convenience and quality of life of residents, which is also meaningful in promoting regional revitalization.
*4 Drone Depot®: A base where goods are accumulated and delivered, located at the connection point between existing logistics and drone logistics. It is also a warehouse for drone delivery and has a system that enables drone delivery of cargo.
*5 Drone Stand®: facilities or spaces for drone takeoffs and landings located at the starting and ending points of drone logistics.

【About Aga Town】
Aga Town is located in the eastern part of Niigata Prefecture, about 35 minutes east of Niigata City, the prefectural capital, on the Ban-Etsu Expressway, and about 60 minutes on General Route 49. The town borders Fukushima Prefecture on the east side.
The Agano River and its tributary, the Tsunenami River, flow through the center of the town, and the terraces along its coastline form the center of this mountainous region. The center of the town is relatively flat, but the surrounding area is surrounded by steep mountainous terrain, with the Iide Mountains spreading out to the north and the Echigo Mountains running north-south in the northwest.
With an area of 952.89㎢, the town is the third largest in the prefecture. The average temperature is about 11°C to 12°C, but the daily temperature variance is not only large, but the temperature ranges throughout the year and can reach as high as 30°C, making it a region with a very wide range of temperatures. The seasons are therefore clearly defined, and visitors can enjoy the seasonal changes in scenery.
* For more information https://www.town.aga.niigata.jp/index.html

【About Seino HD】
Seino Holdings strives to be a value-creating comprehensive logistics trading company and aims to “provide value that transcends time and space” to its customers. Seino embraces an overall strategy of the group is to embody “Open Public Platform Construction (OPP)” that provides better and optimal services to customers through connections both inside and outside the industry in an open-neutral relationship in order to build a platform that is easy for customers and other companies in the same industry to use. In the last mile area, we are actively promoting and expanding the construction of a last mile O.P.P. that solves social issues such as measures for vulnerable shopping and measures for lower income families, while responding to changes in lifestyle and structure.
*About Seino Holding: https://www.seino.co.jp/seino/shd/overall-condition/

【About Aeronext】
AERONEXT, an IP driven R & D technology startup for next-generation drones, is a company that designs the sky through technology to create a world where the sky becomes a social infrastructure, is economized, and solves social issues through drones. Our core technology is 4D GRAVITY®︎, a unique structural design technology that improves basic drone performance such as stability, efficiency, and mobility of industrial drones by optimizing the center of gravity of the aircraft. In order implement this 4D GRAVITY®︎ as standard equipment on industrial drones, we have constructed a strong patent portfolio and are promoting a partnership-based platform business for the 4D GRAVITY®︎ license globally.
AERONEXT has also founded a subsidiary to implement the SkyHub® smart logistics and pursue drone delivery.
*For more information: https://aeronext.com/company/

【About KDDI】
KDDI, with a total of approximately 60 million subscribers, both individual and corporate customers, pursues the “convergence of telecommunications and life design” to expand peripheral businesses centered on telecommunications. For individual customers, KDDI offers mainly “au”, “UQ mobile”, and “povo” brand mobile and fixed-line communication services, as well as life design services such as commerce, finance, energy, entertainment, and education. Furthermore, for corporate customers, we provide services and solutions that support customers’ digital transformation by leveraging technologies such as 5G and IoT in collaboration with partner companies. As a company that contributes to the sustainable growth of society, the KDDI Group will accelerate its SDG initiatives and work with customers and society to achieve sustainable growth and development.

【About ACSL】
ACSL develops domestically produced industrial drones that provide unmanned operations in the industrial field to reduce manpower. The company provides state-of-the-art autonomous control technology and industrial drones equipped with this technology. These drones are already being used in various fields such as infrastructure inspection, postal and logistics services, and disaster prevention.
*For more information https://www.acsl.co.jp/en/

【About NEXT DELIVERY Inc.】
A subsidiary of AERONEXT, a company mainly engaged in drone delivery, established in Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture in 2021 with the vision of “becoming a country where affluence is spread to every corner of the earth through 4D LogisticsTM infrastructure that connects air, land, and time in the age of 100 years of life. The company is also involved in the development, manufacture, sale, rental, and maintenance of hardware and software related to drone delivery. We are also developing peripheral businesses such as development, manufacturing, sales, rental, and maintenance of hardware and software related to drone delivery. Starting with Kosuge Village in Yamanashi Prefecture, we are working to improve the efficiency and revitalization of regional logistics in places such as Kamishihoro Town in Hokkaido and Tsuruga City in Fukui Prefecture.

*AERONEXT and the AERONEXT logo, as well as “4D GRAVITY®,” “SkyHub®” ,” “Drone Depot® ” and “Drone Stand® ” are trademarks of AERONEXT Inc.
*Other company names and product/service names mentioned in this press release are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective owners.

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