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Press Release

Yabu City, KDDI SmartDrone, Seino HD and Aeronext Sign Collaboration Agreement for solving regional issues with next-generation advanced technology, including drones ~Experiment of Level 3.5 flight for practical application of new smart logistics for solving regional issues~

Yabu City (Mayor: Sakae Hirose), Seino Holdings Co., Ltd. (Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, President: Yoshitaka Taguchi, hereinafter “Seino HD”), KDDI SmartDrone Inc. (Minato-ku, Tokyo; President & CEO: Masafumi Hirono; hereinafter “KDDI SmartDrone”) and Aeronext Inc. (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Keisuke Toji, hereinafter “Aeronext”), entered into a collaboration agreement (hereinafter “Agreement”) on February 8, 2024 to address regional issues in Yabu City.

The purpose of this Agreement is to promote experiments for practical application of drone delivery and “SkyHub®” (Note 1), a new smart logistics system that combines drone delivery and land transportation (Note 2), and to promote other measures for regional development coping with regional issues due to depopulation.

As part of this effort, a series of drone logistics demonstration was conducted in Yabu City from February 6 to February 8, 2024, and was made public to the press.

From left to right, Aeronext CEO Keisuke Toji、Yabu City Mayor Sakae Hirose, Seino HD Last one mile promotion team manager Satoru Wada, 、
KDDI SmartDrone SolutionBusinessPromotion 2dept. Director Toshihiro Morishima

Holding up a message delivered by drone that prepared by the children of Sekinomiya Gakuen

【Outline of the Agreement】
1. Date
February 8, 2024

2. Agreement Details
Collaboration and agreement on the following matters through the use of next-generation advanced technology, including drones:
1. Ensuring sustainable logistics system which is essential for local life, and creating a more comfortable environment
2. Regional employment, education, human resource development, and industrial infrastructure development
3. Contribution to local disaster prevention and local decarbonization, as well as the development of new social infrastructure
4. Enhancement of medical system and community welfare in the region

3. Outline of Planned Initiatives
Yabu City is located in the center of northern Hyogo Prefecture and occupies 5.0% of Hyogo Prefecture with an area of 422.91㎢. Regarding population trends, the population was 44,884 at the 1960 census, just after the merging of towns and villages in the Showa period, and decreased significantly to 22,129 in 2020, indicating a declining birthrate and an aging population. With the prospect of declining population and an aging population/ declining birthrate, in order to build a livable city, there is a need to maintain convenience in daily living, such as shopping, and an environment where people can receive medical care with peace of mind. In the transportation industry, maintaining deliveries, especially in depopulated areas, is becoming an issue due to labor shortages and profitability. Therefore, private companies and the government will work together to solve these issues by incorporating drone delivery as a last mile transportation method, aiming to optimize logistics.
To contribute to a more livable city, in the “Sekinomiya Small Hub” project, a community hub that will integrate services necessary for daily life in the Sekinomiya area of Yabu City and be connected to surrounding villages via a transportation network, we will establish a drone depot that will serve as a logistics hub and build a business model for drone delivery services of daily necessities and medical supplies.

In this demonstration, a drone collected medical supplies at a clinic and delivered them to residents’ homes so that “medical security through remote medical care” can be provided in the future. In addition, a delivery demonstration of food and daily necessities was also conducted to address issues such as “vulnerable shoppers” and “isolated areas in the event of a disaster”.
Further, as an effort to improve the acceptance and understanding of residents, a presentation on drones was given at Sekinomiya Gakuen, and a demonstration was held to deliver gifts prepared by children to the Deai Clinic.

1.Flight Route

(1) Medical Supplies Delivery
Sekinomiya Gakuen ⇒ Deai Clinic (pickup of medical supplies) ⇒ Todoroki Area (delivery destination):
one way distance: approx. 9.76 km, cargo weight: approx. 0.6kg, flight time: 29 min.


Taking off from the clinic

Receiving medical supplies

(2) Food and daily goods delivery
Sekinomiya Regional Office ⇒ Deai Community Sports Center (delivery destination):
one way distance: approx. 11 km, cargo weight: approx. 1.9 kg, flight time: approx. 27min.


2. About the Aircraft and Flight Operation Management System

The AirTruck (Note 3), a Japan-born logistics drone, was used for the Level 3.5 flight (out of sight autonomous flight over an uninhabited area). The demonstration flight was conducted by a subsidiary of Aeronext, NEXT DELIVERY Inc., whose main business is drone delivery and the aircraft is controlled by the SmartDrone Tools (Note 4) Flight Operation System developed by KDDI SmartDrone, which enables remote control and autonomous flight of the aircraft using mobile communications.

  1. Demonstration Implementation Organization

Project Management: KDDI SmartDrone
Aircraft Operation: KDDI SmartDrone, NEXT DELIVERY
Aircraft Provided by: Aeronext
Logistics Business Research and Planning Development: Seino HD
Locations: Yabu City

(Note 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.

(Note 2) 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.

(Note 3) 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® airframe structure design technology. Internationally, it has flown in Mongolia at an altitude of 1,300m and an outside temperature of -15°C (November 2023).

(Note 4) 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 usage scenario. The 4G LTE Package offers a combination of tools: an “operation management 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 Yabu City】
Yabu City was formed on April 1, 2004 through the merger of four towns: Yoka, Yabu, Oya, and Sekinomiya in Yabu County, Hyogo prefecture. With a population of 22,129 and 8,388 households (according to the 2020 census), it is located in the center of the Tajima region in northern Hyogo Prefecture, occupying an area of 422.91㎢, 5.0% of Hyogo Prefecture and 19.8% of the Tajima region.
The city is surrounded by majestic and beautiful nature. For example, Maruyama River, one of major rivers in Hyogo prefecture, flows through the eastern part of the city from southeast to northeast. The Yoka and Sekinomiya areas are located along the Yagi River, a tributary of the Maruyama River. Oya and Yabu areas are located along the Oya River, another tribunal of Maruyama River. Mt. Hyonosen, the highest mountain in the prefecture and Mt. Hachibuse rise among the plateaus. Hachikogen and Wakasukogen plateaus are located in the western part of the city.
*For more information: https://www.city.yabu.hyogo.jp/index.html

【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 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/

【About Aeronext Inc.】
With the vision of “new economization of airspace,” Aeronext develops and patents industrial drone technologies and conducts licensing in order to create a world where the sky becomes societal infrastructure and economized, and social issues are resolved with drones. Aeronext’s core technology is 4D GRAVITY®︎, a proprietary structural design technology that optimizes the center of gravity and aerodynamic characteristics to improve the basic performance of industrial drones dedicated to logistics in terms of stability, efficiency, and maneuverability. We have built a strong patent portfolio to make 4D GRAVITY®︎ a standard feature of industrial drones and are developing a partnership-based platform business globally based on the 4D GRAVITY®︎ license. We have also established a strategic subsidiary, NEXT DELIVERY, to enable new smart logistics SkyHub®︎ utilizing drones and are proactively working on the societal implementation of drone delivery services and commercialization of those services.
*For more information: https://aeronext.com/company/

*Company names and product/service names mentioned in this press release are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective owners.

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