Matsuura City (Mayor: Yoshiyasu Tomoda), Seino Holdings Co., Ltd. (Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, President: Yoshitaka Taguchi, hereinafter “Seino HD”), Aeronext Inc. (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Keisuke Toji, hereinafter “Aeronext”), NEXT DELIVERY Inc. (Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture; Representative Director: Keisuke Toji; hereinafter “NEXT DELIVERY”), and KDDI SmartDrone Inc. (Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masafumi Hirono, President＆CEO; hereinafter “KDDI SmartDrone”) conducted a demonstration experiment for drone delivery on remote islands in Matsuura City on November 29, 2023, aiming to build a new logistics service by utilizing next-generation advanced technology, and shared the experiment with the press.
Specifically, NEXT DELIVERY and KDDI SmartDrone collaborated to study the societal implementation of new smart logistics*1 SkyHub®*2, that combines drone delivery and land transportation, which Seino HD and Aeronext are developing and implementing.
For this demonstration experiment, a temporary Drone Depot*3 will be set up at Takara-jima Roadside Station on Takashima Island, and a drone-based inter-island delivery service will be conducted.
【Outline of the Demonstration Experiment】
１．Background and Purpose
Matsuura City is located in the northeastern part of Nagasaki Prefecture and is a seaside town rich in nature, and includes the Fukushima, Takashima, Aoshima, Kuroshima, Tobishima, and other islands off the coast of Imari Bay. On the islands, access is possible by land or ferry, but there are no commercial facilities nearby, and most residents have to drive to the adjacent urban areas (Karatsu City, Imari City, and Matsuura City) for shopping, which poses a challenge for shopping challenged residents, due to the aging population. In addition, remote islands that require ferries may become isolated in the event of an emergency, thus presenting challenges for transporting goods in the absence of traditional means of transportation.
Against this backdrop, we will conduct a demonstration experiment to improve residents’ understanding and identify issues for regular flights in order to solve the problems of the shopping challenged and isolation in the event of an emergency.
In this demonstration experiment, we envision an air links between Matsuura City’s outlying island of Takashima, as well as a number of other outlying islands. First, land delivery will be made between Takashima Island, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge, and the inner islands, and hybrid delivery by drone and truck will be made within Takashima Island to improve efficiency, and then a drone route will be established from Takashima Island to the neighboring Kuroshima for immediate delivery by drone to implement delivery services in for scenarios such as emergency supplies, shopping services, and food delivery. For the purpose of improving residents’ understanding and identifying local issues, Takara-jima Roadside Station will be used as a temporary Drone Depot®*3 and Drone Stands®*4 will be set up at Funatozu Port and Kuroshima Port.
The drone delivery demonstration used AirTruck*5, a logistics drone developed by Aeronext, and utilized the SmartDrone Tools*7 Flight Operation System developed by KDDI SmartDrone, which enables remote control and autonomous flight of the drone using mobile communications.
On Wednesday, November 29, the drone flew approximately 16 minutes, about 7.3 km, one way from Takara-jima Roadside Station to Funatozu Port to deliver a package then returned. Next, the drone flew about 13 minutes for approximately 5.8 km one way from Takara-jima Roadside Station to Kuroshima Port to make a delivery.
In response to a question about how he would like to put the drone to practical use, Mayor Tomoda commented, “I would like to solve transportation issues such as the 2024 logistics problem, and I would also like to support the lives of residents living on the three inhabited remote islands in Matsuura City by using drones to create a more comfortable living environment on the remote islands.
We will continue to study the societal implementation of “SkyHub®,” a new smart logistics system that combines drone delivery and land delivery, utilizing drones and other next-generation advanced technologies to promote understanding among residents and address regional issues.
*This demonstration experiment has been adopted by the Organization for Environment and Development as a project eligible for a FY2022 subsidy for carbon dioxide emission control measures (a project to promote the introduction of advanced technologies that simultaneously realize social reform and decarbonization of logistics).
*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 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.
*3 Drone Depot®
Warehouses and bases for the accumulation and delivery of goods at the connection points between existing land-based logistics and drone logistics, with a setup that enables drone delivery of goods.
*4 Drone Stand®
Facilities or locations for drone takeoffs and landings located at the origin and terminus of drone logistics.
*5 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®*6 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. 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).
*6 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.
*7 SmartDrone Tools
A service provided by KDDI SmartDrone that combines the 4G LTE Package, a set of basic tools necessary for remote autonomous drone flight, with options that suit the user’s usage scenario. The 4G LTE Package offers a combination of tools: an “Flight Operation System” that enables remote control of drones and real-time sharing of images from anywhere in Japan, a cloud for managing filmed data, and mobile communications for unlimited data usage, an “over-the-air mobile communication area map” that allows users to check in advance which areas can be flown out of sight using mobile communications.
【About Matsuura City】
*For more information: https://www.city-matsuura.jp/
【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 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 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 KDDI SmartDrone】
KDDI SmartDrone builds services that enable safe remote and long-distance flights by controlling drones using mobile communications such as 4G LTE. KDDI SmartDrone is working to create new businesses with drones and provide agile services that meet customer needs in various fields such as inspection, logistics, surveillance, agriculture, and surveying.
*For more information: https://kddi.smartdrone.co.jp/
*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.
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