Nara City (Mayor: Gen Nakagawa), Aeronext Inc. (Head Office: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Keisuke Toji, hereinafter “Aeronext”), NEXT DELIVERY Inc. (Head Office: Kosuge Village, Yamanashi Prefecture; CEO: Keisuke Toji, hereinafter “NEXT DELIVERY”), KDDI SmartDrone Inc. (Head Office: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President & CEO: Masafumi Hirono, hereinafter “KDDI SmartDrone”) conducted demonstration test of package delivery using a Japan’s dedicated logistics drone on February 22, 2023 in the Tsukigase and Yagyu districts, a first for Nara City.
This demonstration experiment is based on a comprehensive collaboration agreement signed on the same day between Nara City and Aeronext, which aims to establish a new smart logistics*1 that contributes to addressing regional issues and regional development through the use of drones and other next-generation advanced technologies.
This demonstration experiment will be conducted to study the societal implementation of “SkyHub®”*1, a new smart logistics system that combines drone delivery and land transportation, which is being developed and promoted by Seino Holdings Co., Ltd. and Aeronext Inc. KDDI SmartDrone collaborated with NEXT DELIVERY to conduct this project.
Demonstration Experiment Overview
The Tsukigase and Yagyu districts, which are the sites of this demonstration experiment, are known as the eastern area. The eastern area accounts for approximately 60% of the total area of Nara City and is mostly mountainous, with a declining birthrate, aging population, and population decline compared to the urban area. The infrastructure for daily life is deteriorating, as evidenced by the distance to supermarkets for fresh food and daily necessities, and the decrease in the number of public bus services.
In order to optimize logistics, the private sector and the government will work together to create a system that provides shopping services, disaster relief, and pharmaceutical delivery by incorporating drone delivery into the last mile of transportation and introducing a new logistics system that links and integrates ground transportation and drone delivery, aiming to address regional issues and build a more livable community.
In the Tsukigase and Yagyu districts, this demonstration experiment was combined with the Mutual Assistive Shopping Service*3 (tentative name), in which a drone was used to deliver for the last one mile to the user.
In the Tsukigase district, Gyoza and hot pot set were delivered by AirTruck*6, a logistics drone developed by Aeronext, in approximately 6 minutes over a distance of 2.2 km one way from the Tsukigase Workation Room ONOONO, set up as a temporary Drone Depot®*4, to the Ishiuchi parking lot, set up as a temporary Drone Stand®*5. For the control of the aircraft, we used the operation operation system of SmartDrone Tools*8, which enables remote control and autonomous flight of the aircraft using mobile communication developed by KDDI SmartDrone.
In the Yagyu district, Hoobasushi, eggs and etc. were delivered in about 3 minutes from the former Yagyu Junior High School, which was set up as a temporary Drone Depot®, to a private house in Yagyu Town, a distance of about 1.1 km one way. Mr.Takemoto received the drone-delivered food at his home and said, “I applied for the drone because I thought it would be meaningful because it is environmentally friendly. There are many elderly people in the district, so the sooner we can make this happen, the safer it will be for them to continue living here.”
3. Roles of Each Participant in the Demonstration Experiment
|Nara City||Study of policies and plans, provision of demonstration areas, coordination with local residents and related organizations, and publicity activities|
|Aeronext||Preparing drone aircraft dedicated to logistics|
|NEXT DELIVERY||Flight Operations|
|KDDI SmartDrone||Providing drone flight operation system and support for drone operations|
4. Summary of the press conference
【Nara City, Mayor: Gen Nakagawa】
The Tsukigase distrct has a small population of about 1,200 people and an aging population. The steep terrain makes for beautiful scenery, but there are few flat areas, making it difficult to get around. I am very happy to be able to take on the challenge of introducing new technology and know-how to a region that is facing such a variety of problems. I hope that the various initiatives that have been born in Tsukigase will encourage and stimulate other mountainous regions in Japan that are struggling with similar issues. For future expansion, we will first focus on the seven districts in the eastern part of Nara City, and then also on the entire Yamato Plateau and other areas beyond administrative and prefectural borders, from the perspective of how we can make the actual living areas of residents flourish. We are eager to implement the dynamism of this energetic, cutting-edge initiative “to take on the newest challenges in this oldest of towns”.
Since we are still in the demonstration stage, we would like to be as flexible as possible in responding to suggestions from the local residents about what they would like to do with the drone, in addition to what we are currently planning, so that we can work together to make the project more exciting. For example, we would like to place a drone depot at ONOONO, our workcation room, to deliver freshly prepared food to people in the community and beyond.
【CEO, Aeronext / CEO, NEXTDELIVERY: Keisuke Toji】
Although Nara City is a large city with a population of 350,000, the eastern part of the city, where the demonstration project will be conducted, has a declining birthrate, aging population, and a shrinking population compared to the urban area, making daily transportation and shopping a challenge. Nara City is very proactive in solving problems in the eastern region.
By collaborating with Nara City to swiftly implement the SkyHub®︎ model that we are demonstrating this time, we will be able to solve the problems of other municipalities throughout Japan who are struggling with the same issues.
【KDDI SmartDrone President: Masafumi Hirono】
KDDI SmartDrone uses mobile communications to build services that realize safe and secure remote and long-distance flights, and is actively working to solve issues faced by customers and society. We would like to contribute to the creation of a more attractive and livable city by utilizing advanced technology to solve the problems related to life infrastructure in Nara City.
5. Details of the Comprehensive Collaborative Agreement between Nara City and Aeronext (Date of signing: February 22, 2023) include collaboration and agreement on the following matters by pursuing activities that utilize next-generation advanced technologies, including drones.
- Promotion of tourism, industry and economy
- Address regional issues facing regional transportation and logistics
- Enhancing disaster prevention and contributing to decarbonization
- Other matters necessary to achieve the objectives of this agreement
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 local 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 logistics and drone logistics, and connects ground and air infrastructure so that goods can be delivered anytime, anywhere. SkyHub® is an open and standardized system that incorporates drone delivery. On this platform, based on the Drone Depot®︎, we develop and provide services tailored to local issues and needs, such as delivery agency services based on the SkyHub® application, on-demand delivery, pharmaceutical delivery, and joint delivery of packages from different logistics companies in one package. 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 contributes to addressing social issues in the region, such as the shortage of workers due to the declining population and aging population, transportation problems in specific depopulated areas, medical problems, disaster countermeasures, and measures for the vulnerable in logistics, from the aspect of logistics reform, and will also raise the level of satisfaction of residents and communities by improving convenience and quality of life.
*3 Mutual Assist Shopping Service (tentative name)
Cooperation between Nara City, Japan Post, Japan Post, Next Commons Lab, Sustainable Innovation Lab, and AEON Retail Co. for a demonstration experiment of a new shopping service that enables customers to purchase products from “AEON Net Super” within the target area by utilizing Japan Post’s post office and delivery network in a part of eastern Nara City (Tsukigase, Yagyu, and Higashisato districts) for about one month from February 21 to March 22, 2023.
*4 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.
*5 Drone Stand®
Facilities or locations for drone takeoffs and landings located at the origin and terminus of drone logistics.
*6 Dedicated Logistics Drone AirTruck
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®*7 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.
*7 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.
*8 SmartDrone Tools
KDDI SmartDrone Inc. provided service 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 three tools: an “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.
【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 “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.
*For more information: https://nextdelivery.aeronext.co.jp/
【About KDDI SmartDrone】
KDDI Smart Drone 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 and the Aeonext 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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