September 30, 2021
  • JP Rakuten Logistics, Inc.
  • Rakuten Group, Inc.
  • Japan Post Co., Ltd.

JP Rakuten Logistics Conducts Trial Drone Delivery in Mountainous Region of Hakuba Village, Nagano

- Successful drone delivery operation completed by local business operators, with a labor-saving operation system; Marks Japan’s first round-trip drone delivery involving supply drops conducted beyond visual line of sight and without an observer.

Tokyo, September 30, 2021 - JP Rakuten Logistics, Inc., a joint venture between Rakuten Group, Inc. and Japan Post Co., Ltd. has participated in a drone delivery trial*1 conducted by the Hakuba Mountain Drone Logistics Committee*2 - a consortium of 11 companies, organizations and municipalities including Hakuba Village in Nagano Prefecture. JP Rakuten Logistics supplied logistics solutions as part of the two-month trial in the mountainous region of Hakuba Village during the months of August and September 2021. The trial aimed to overcome challenges in transporting supplies in mountainous regions.

During the trial, deliveries were made by drone from a hut at the foot of Mt. Shirouma in Nagano Prefecture’s Hakuba to a hut at the summit over a 10km round trip route with an altitude gain of approximately 1600m. A delivery operation team led by local business operators was established by offering them training and supporting them to take on the roles of drone pilot and operations managers of the drone deliveries. While the 2020 trial in Hakuba employed a team of more than 10 - including seven observers - this time, the deliveries were completed successfully with a team of just two people and no observers, leading to significant labor and cost reductions.

A new and improved drone model was also used, which achieved delivery of cargo weighing up to 7kg. Unlike last year’s trial, successful return flights following delivery were completed, preceded by safe and energy-efficient deliveries in which goods were airdropped*3 from a height of less than 1m off the ground under a permit issued in accordance with the Civil Aeronautics Act. In fact, this trial marked the first-time ever in Japan a round-trip drone delivery was successfully completed involving a drop conducted beyond visual line of sight without an observer.

JP Rakuten Logistics will continue working to build a new logistics platform while harnessing the potential of drones and UGVs to provide new delivery solutions for remote mountain huts and other difficult-to-reach locations.

*1 Participating companies, organizations and municipalities: Hakubakan Co., Ltd., Hakuba Village Promotion Corporation, Karamatsu Co., Ltd., Hakuba Village, Mount Libra Inc., e-Robotics Co., Ltd., Maruwa Unyu Kikan Co., Ltd., Kanamoto Co., Ltd., KELEK, Advanced Simulation Technology of Mechanics R&D, Co., Ltd., JP Rakuten Logistics, Inc.
*2 JP Rakuten Logistics has succeeded the drone and UGV project from Rakuten Group, Inc. This is the second trial held in Hakuba: Rakuten conducted the first trial over approximately one month starting in mid-August 2020.
*3 Refers to dropping objects from an unmanned aircraft in flight to deliver them.

Overview of the trial
Trial period: An approximate two-month period in August and September 2021
Delivery route: Took off from Sarukuraso (1250m), delivering supplies to Hakubadake Chojoshukusha hut (2730m) and Hakuba Sanso hut (2832m)
Flight distance: Approximately 10km round trip, with an altitude gain of around 1600m
Supplies delivered: Fresh food, beverages, medical supplies (Maximum weight: 7kg)
Organizer: Hakuba Mountain Drone Logistics Committee
Solutions provider: JP Rakuten Logistics, Inc.
Operations: Local business operators

Drone delivery in Hakuba Village, Nagano Prefecture

Delivery container being loaded into the drone

The drone in flight

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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