NEXT DELIVERY Inc. (Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture; Representative Director: Keisuke Toji; hereinafter “NEXT DELIVERY”), Aeronext Inc. (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Keisuke Toji, hereinafter “Aeronext”), Seino Holdings Co., Ltd. (Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, President: Yoshitaka Taguchi, hereinafter “Seino HD”), and Kamishihoro Town, Hokkaido (Mayor: Mitsugi Takenaka, hereinafter “Kamishihoro Town”) received approval from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on Friday, December 8 to fly newly established Level 3.5*1 drone flights, and conducted Japan’s first Level 3.5 drone delivery operation in Kamishihoro Town on Monday, December 11.
The establishment of Level 3.5 was declaredby the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism at the first meeting of the Startup and Investment Working Group of the Council for Promoting Regulatory Reform, held on November 17, its explanation of deregulation and future policy regarding drones, the Level 3.5 flight would be introduced by the end of this year. Level 3.5 flight means that the previous access control measures on the ground, such as the placement of assistants and signs, are abolished by using digital technology (using onboard cameras to check for the presence of pedestrians, etc.). Furthermore the possession of an unmanned aircraft remote pilot certificate and insurance coverage facilitate flights that involve crossing roads, railroads, etc. This is a major move toward the commercialization of delivery by drone, as it will lead to the reduction of operation costs and increased operational efficiency.
(*Please refer to this link for a video of the day’s events. https://youtu.be/uF8RWMFbWx0）
【Level 3.5 Flight Overview】
AirTruck*2, a dedicated logistics drone, was used for drone delivery, and its operation was remotely controlled (remote piloted) by a qualified operator from Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture.
At Kamishihoro Town Mountain Development Center, where the briefing was held, NEXT DELIVERY Director (Chief Operations Officer) Takahito Aoki explained Level 3.5 flights to the press while projecting the flight operation control display, images from the onboard camera during flight, and the remote operation control status in Kosuge Village on a large screen.
Two flights were conducted in the presence of the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
The first flight took approximately 16 minutes from the Kamishihoro Share Office to the Hamburg Steak Restaurant “Tobachi” for an outbound distance of 8.5 km, picked up the hamburger steak lunch boxes, and returned for a return distance of 8.5 km for approximately 16 minutes to complete delivery to the customer. On the return trip, the restaurant staff placed two hamburger lunchboxes in a box and attached them to the Air Truck.
Although there was a national highway crossing along the route, safety was confirmed via the onboard cameras and the delivery was made without pausing.
The second flight took about 9 minutes to deliver newspapers from the Kamishihoro Share Office to Mr. Suzuki’s private home, a distance of about 4.9 km one way, and then returned to the Share Office for a round trip flight. The Suzuki family, who were receiving the delivery, monitored the aircraft for safety using on-board cameras to ensure unmanned, unassisted delivery.
Date: December 11, 2023
Items Delivered: Food (hamburger lunch boxes), newspapers all under 5.0kg
Flight Altitude: 20m〜149m
Flight Speed: up to 36km/h
Flight Operation Management: conducted remotely from Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture by licensed personnel.
1. Food delivery between Kamishihoro Share Office and Hamburg Steak Restaurant “Tobachi”
【Unique points of Level 3.5】
Unattended pick-up implementation: Unassisted landing at the pickup side. Restaurant staff (trained in advance) attach the cargo to the drone and prepare for take-off.
No support staff or signage/markings
No pause when crossing a national highway*4, after checking for safety
2. Delivery of newspapers to Kamishihoro Share Office and private homes
【Unique points of Level 3.5】
Unassisted landing implemented: The drone landed automatically, and the box containing the newspaper was detached, placed in front of a private residence, and took off, after which the residents picked up the box and checked its contents.
No support staff or signage/markings
Aeronext and NEXT DELIVERY, in collaboration with Seino HD, are advancing new smart logistics*5 SkyHub®*6 that integrates drone delivery and land transportation to address regional issues and have already entered the social implementation phase in nine municipalities*7 nationwide, including Kamishihoro Town. Beginning with the current implementation, we will sequentially launch Level 3.5 flights in these other municipalities to accelerate the speed of societal implementation.
*1 Level 3.5
Following instructions from the Prime Minister at the first meeting of the Council for Digital Administrative and Financial Reform held on October 11, intensive studies were conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism with the aim of commercializing drone-based goods delivery by the end of this year, and a policy such as establishing a new Level 3.5 flight by the end of this year was presented at the Startup and Investment Working Group of the Council for Promoting Regulatory Reform held on November 17, 2011. Level 3.5 flight means that the previous access control measures on the ground, such as the placement of assistants and signs, are eliminated through the use of digital technology (using onboard cameras to check for the presence of pedestrians, etc.), Further Level 3.5 adds requirements for the possession of an unmanned aircraft remote pilot certificate and insurance coverage facilitate flights that involve crossing roads, railroads, etc. This is a major move toward the commercialization of delivery by drone, as it will lead to reductions in operation costs and increased operational efficiency.
*2 Dedicated Logistics Drone AirTruck
AirTruck, the first mass-produced logistics drone developed in Japan by Aeronext, a next-generation drone technology startup, in collaboration with ACSL, achieves stable flight with Aeronext’s proprietary 4D GRAVITY®*3 airframe structure design technology. 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. AirTruck has flown in demonstration tests in various regions of Japan and has a top-class flight record in Japan and internationally, it has flown in Mongolia at an altitude of 1,300m and an outside temperature of -15°C (November 2023). Maximum payload 5 kg, maximum flight distance 20 km.
*3 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.
*4 Crossing National Highways
At Level 3.5, crossing over roads, railroads, and other moving vehicles is possible with possession of appropriate unmanned aircraft operator proficiency certification and third-party liability insurance.
*5 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.
A new smart logistics platform jointly developed and deployed by Aeronext and Seino HD that connects existing land transportation and drone logistics, as well as connecting ground and air infrastructure to deliver goods anytime, anywhere. An open and standardized platform with built-in drone delivery, operating from Drone Depots®︎ and using cars and drones as delivery vehicles, and SkyHub®︎ TMS as the base for SkyHub®︎ Delivery (shopping service), SkyHub®︎ Eats (food delivery), SkyHub®︎ Medical (pharmaceutical delivery), as well as joint delivery of packages from different logistics companies in bulk, to develop and provide services tailored to local issues and needs. The introduction of SkyHub® not only has the logistics benefits of promoting unmanned and inventory-free operations and improving last mile delivery efficiency, but also introduces a new logistics infrastructure. Where the logistics industry facing the “2024 Logistics Problem,” SkyHub® will contribute to solving social issues in the region, such as transportation problems in specific depopulated areas, medical problems, disaster countermeasures, and measures for the vulnerable in logistics, SkyHub® will also contribute to address regional issues such as traffic problems in specific depopulated areas, medical problems, disaster countermeasures, and measures for the vulnerable in logistics, as well as raise the level of satisfaction of residents and communities by improving convenience and quality of life.
*7 Nine municipalities implementing new smart logistics SkyHub® Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture; Kamishihoro Town, Hokkaido; Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture; Sakai Town, Ibaraki Prefecture; Katsuura City, Chiba Prefecture; Hidakagawa Town, Wakayama Prefecture; Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture; and Sanagochison, Tokushima Prefecture; and Aga Town, Niigata Prefecture
【About NEXT DELIVERY】
A subsidiary of Aeronext, a company mainly engaged in drone delivery, established in Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture in 2021 with the vision of “spreading affluence 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, and related peripheral businesses. 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.
*For more information: https://nextdelivery.aeronext.co.jp/
【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/
【About Seino Holdings Co., Ltd.】
With logistics as its central axis, Seino HD also provides one-stop value in areas peripheral to logistics, such as finance, human resources, and procurement. We aim to be a corporate group that connects hearts and minds beyond logistics to contribute to the prosperity of our customers and bring smiles and happiness to all. Under the slogan of “Team Green Logistics,” we are currently working to develop an open public platform (O.P.P.) that transcends industry and corporate boundaries as an overall strategy to solve social issues facing Japan, such as the declining birthrate, aging population, and environmental problems, and to take on the challenge of co-creating “green logistics” that will optimize a sustainable logistics network. In the last mile area, we are actively building a “last mile O.P.P. that solves social issues” as a countermeasure for vulnerable shoppers and poor families, in line with the changing lifestyles and structures of society as a whole. *Open Public Platform (O.P.P.) Our concept is to build a logistics platform that is open and accessible to all, regardless of industry or location, to improve the efficiency and value to each user, and to contribute to industry, the environment, and people’s lives as an infrastructure.
*For more information: https://www.seino.co.jp/seino/shd/overall-condition/
【About Kamishihoro Town】
Located in the northern part of Hokkaido’s Tokachi region, Kamishihoro has a population of approximately 5,000 and an administrative area of approximately 700㎢, with forests covering approximately 76% of the total area. The core industries are dairy farming, field crops, and forestry, and the number of dairy cattle raised is one of the highest in Japan. In addition, Kamishihoro is pursuing a smart town that utilizes ICT, such as the use of demand-driven buses for the elderly and the operation of self-driving buses, and is also working to create a population of people who are involved through work opportunities like workations, starting with the ” Kamishihoro Share Office”.
*Aeronext, the Aeronext logo, and NEXT DELIVERY, 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.