Annaka City, Gunma Prefecture, conducts a drone delivery demonstration experiment aiming to build a New Smart Logistics System that contributes to solving regional issues～Looking at the future 10 to 20 years from now, successfully achieved a series of consecutive drone deliveries of farm produce, food, prescription drugs, and other items with no empty legs, using Level 3 flights over three routes connecting an elementary school, a golf course, and a hospital.～
Annaka City (Mayor: Hitoshi Iwai), Seino Holdings Co., Ltd. (Head Office: Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture; President: Yoshitaka Taguchi; hereinafter “Seino HD”), and Aeronext Inc. (Head Office: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Keisuke Toji; hereinafter “Aeronext”) conducted a demonstration experiment on Wednesday, February 8 in multiple areas of Annaka City aiming to build a new smart logistics*1 that will contribute to solving regional issues continuing 10 to 20 years into the future.
This demonstration experiment is the first phase of a comprehensive collaboration agreement signed by Annaka City, Seino HD, and Aeronext on October 4, 2022, for the establishment of a new smart logistics system that contributes to solving regional issues through the use of next-generation advanced technologies, including drones and includes the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s “Research Project to Promote the Practical Application of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for CO2 Reduction”.
Specifically, the project is aimed at the societal implementation of “SkyHub®*2”, a new smart logistics system that combines drone delivery and land transportation developed and promoted by Seino HD and Aeronext, in cooperation with local voluntary organizations and local businesses. In collaboration with local voluntary organizations and local businesses, we have successfully completed a series of uninterrupted chain drone delivery flights (all routes were level 3 flights) of agricultural products, food, medical supplies, etc. on multiple routes connecting an elementary school, a golf course, and a hospital, in order to study various applications and business profitability for solving social issues.
Demonstration Experiment Overview
１．Background and Purpose
The population of Annaka City peaked at 64,893 in 2000 and has continued to decline since then, with the current figure of 55,163 (as of January 31, 2023). While the birthrate is declining, the percentage of the elderly population is increasing year by year, and in some districts, 60% to 70% of the population is elderly. The city is also characterized by the absence of population centers (DID = densely inhabited districts), resulting in a low-density, diffuse urban structure without a high concentration of population in the city center. In addition, public transportation such as shared-ride buses and shared-ride cabs are in operation, but the number of users is decreasing year by year and the public burden is increasing. Transportation is also an issue for maintaining the convenience of daily shopping and hospital visits for people living in aging areas and areas without bus routes.
In order to optimize logistics, the private sector and the government will collaborate on a demonstration experiment that aims to solve these issues by creating a system that provides shopping services, disaster relief, and pharmaceutical deliveries by introducing a new smart logistics system that incorporates drone delivery as the last mile transportation method and connects and integrates ground transportation and drone delivery.
In collaboration with local voluntary organizations and local businesses, we provided local residents with drone flights between elementary schools, golf courses, and hospitals, delivering farm produce, food, and medical supplies at each location. We have conducted multiple operations including eliminating empty cargo space/legs across multiple flights, combining freight and passengers using the Shinkansen ,consolidation of packages for multiple destinations, Consolidation of prescription drugs for 3 people from online medical consultation and products for shopping, and boxed lunches made from produce delivered to stores who can reflect them in their inventory instantly.
The former Tsukumo Elementary School was used as a temporary Drone Depot® (temporary site) and as the starting and ending point for drone takeoffs and landings. Three drone deliveries were carried out in a series of chains as follows.
- Former Tsukumo Elementary School (Temporary Drone Depot®) → THE RAYSOM (9.4km one way, approx. 20 minutes) Delivery of vegetables from local farmers. SHARE cooks lunch boxes at a restaurant using the delivered vegetables and anko (bean paste delivered by bullet train from Itoigawa).
- THE RAYSUM→Usui Hospital (6.4km one way, approx. 11 minutes) Cooked lunch boxes are delivered and transported by electric bicycle to the nearby JA Farmers to be displayed as products in the store.
- Usui Hospital → former Tsukumo Elementary School (Temporary Drone Depot®) (4.9 km one-way, approx. 9 min.) Delivery of prescription drugs* to 3 actual patients of Usui Hospital who received online medical care and online drug instruction by 3 different pharmacies in front of the hospital, and food and daily necessities from JA Farmers and daily necessities. (*Deliveries of actual prescription medications to each patient in compliance with guidelines for drone drug delivery.)
Ms. Suzuki commented ” Recently, gas prices are high and driving is difficult as I got older, so I’m grateful. I would like to use drone delivery for prescription drugs and shopping, if it is put to practical use in the future.” after receiving prescription drugs and groceries delivered to them by drone.
After this verification, we will first pursue the implementation of the new smart logistics SkyHub® in the former Matsuida Town in the current fiscal year.The parties will mutually collaborate and cooperate to help solve local issues and revitalize the community in Annaka City by utilizing next-generation advanced technologies, including drones, in line with the city’s issues and the needs of its citizens.From Annaka City, we will showcase future regional models to Gunma Prefecture, Japan, and the world.
*1 New Smart Logistics
A public-private initiative to find solutions to the issues commonly faced by the logistics industry, such as labor shortages, environmental and energy issues, and DX areas, while utilizing digital and technology to ensure the future sustainability of logistics, which is an indispensable infrastructure for people’s daily lives. The project aims to realize the last mile joint delivery, the best mix of land and air transportation, freight and passenger consolidation, automated technology, etc., through co-creation based on an open public platform (O.P.P.) that transcends the boundaries between the industry and the outside world.
*2 New Logistics 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.
AirTruck, the first mass-produced logistics drone developed in Japan by Aeronext Corporation, a next-generation drone technology startup, in collaboration with ACSL, achieves stable flight with Aeronext’s proprietary 4D GRAVITY®*3 airframe structure design technology. The AirTruck is a dedicated logistics drone that goes “faster, farther, and is more stable” with enhanced for logistics, specialized for forward motion, and aerodynamic characteristics required for long-distance flight. The prototype has flown in demonstration tests in various regions of Japan and has the No. 1 flight record in Japan.
*4 Airframe structural design technology 4D GRAVITY®
Airframe structure design technology developed by Aeronext optimizes aerodynamic characteristics by equalizing motor speed regardless of attitude, condition, or movement during flight and controlling lift, drag, and fuselage center of gravity based on fuselage shape and structure to improve the basic performance of industrial drones, such as stability, efficiency, and mobility, and the transportation performance of drones dedicated to logistics. Aeronext has patented this technology and manages it as part of the 4D GRAVITY® patent portfolio. 4D GRAVITY® improves basic performance and opens up new markets and applications for industrial drones.
【About Annaka City】
Annaka City was established on March 18, 2006 through the merger of the former Annaka City and the former Matsuida Town, and is located in the western part of Gunma Prefecture. The city was an important transportation hub along the Higashiyama Road in ancient times and the Nakasendo Road and barrier stations in modern times, and even today, with one Shinkansen station and two expressway interchanges in the city, it thrives as a transportation hub.
Currently, Annaka City is pursuing various measures to develop its tourism business by taking advantage of its blessed environment, such as Isobe Hot Springs and the old Usui Pass, and to enhance commerce and industry by taking advantage of its excellent transportation system, aiming to create a better city.
For more information https://www.city.annaka.lg.jp/gaiyou/index.html
【About Seino Holdings Co., LTD.】
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.
* For more information: https://www.seino.co.jp/seino/shd/overall-condition/
【About Aeronext Inc.】
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/
*Aeronext and the Aeronext logo, as well as “4D GRAVITY®” “SkyHub®“ “Drone Depot®” “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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