Tokyo, November 22, 2016 – Rakuten, Inc., Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd. (ACSL) and NTT DOCOMO, INC. today announced that the three companies have successfully carried out a demonstration experiment of a drone-based delivery system utilizing LTE in the National Strategic Special Zone of Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture.
In the latest experiment, the delivery of cargo using a drone was carried out at the Inage Seaside Park in Chiba City and adjacent sea area. The experiment, carried out as a pre-cursor to future long-distance delivery by drones, demonstrated that an order placed from a smartphone was correctly received by the drone-based delivery system, and that remote control via the LTE network can be conducted in a stable manner.
Based on the experience gained from the “Sora Raku” drone-based delivery service launched in April 2016, Rakuten has made further improvements to the product ordering app for users and the drone dashboard for controlling the drone. With these improvements combined with the new model of Rakuten’s “Tenku” delivery drone, which features a number of performance enhancements including water-resistance, Rakuten has been able to develop a more advanced drone-based delivery solution.
ACSL has newly developed the platform airframe, known as the “PF1,” which is capable of long-distance flight with fully autonomous control. The “PF1” has been designed with future flight over the sea and populated areas in mind, and as such has been equipped with a parachute to slow the speed of the fall in an emergency, offering a greater level of safety than conventional drones. The “PF1” served as the base of the new “Tenku” drone.
NTT DOCOMO has been carrying out various demonstration experiments with its Cellular Drone™ which utilizes the cell phone LTE network as part of its “DOCOMO Drone Project.” Utilizing its knowledge and mobile technologies, NTT DOCOMO mapped out flight routes that enable stable communication and also monitored the impact of airborne cell phones on the cell phone network at the ground level.
Going forward, the three companies aim to realize a drone-based delivery system for use in urban areas through their work with the Chiba City Drone Delivery Subcommittee.
*Cellular Drone is a trademark of NTT DOCOMO, INC.