Drone Delivery for Disaster Response Japan

This article published in collaboration with JUIDA, the Japan UAS Industrial Development Association.

In Japan, a shrinking rural population and dramatic landcape means that some villages may be difficult to reach in the case of a disaster.  NEXT DELIVERY has successfully conducted a 2 day demonstration of drone delivery for disaster response, bringing supplies to Kawanemoto Town, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Kawanemoto Town has a total population of 6,014 (as of July 2023) and is located in the central part of Shizuoka Prefecture.  The towns natural geography contributes to transportation challenges in the region.  The town area is long and narrow: about 23 km from east to west and about 40 km from north to south along the Oigawa River, with an area of 496.72 km² (6.4% of the prefecture’s total).   90% of the region is forested. With some villages far from the town center, an aging population, and few roads, government agencies are concerned that natural disasters could block access for relief to these villages.

Next Delivery Japan drone delivery for disaster response

NEXT DELIVERY worked with government officials to understand regional issues and identify any potential barriers to entry.  On September 2, stakeholders engaged the community in a departure ceremony held during the Disaster Prevention Festival, and a drone delivery demonstration flight performed.  “In the demonstration flight, we conducted two flights to deliver a Kawane tea set (weighing about 2.1 kg) from the main office building of the town hall where the disaster prevention festival is held to the riverbed (distance about 800 m, about 3 minutes) and the campsite (distance about 550 m, about 2 minutes),” said NEXT DELIVERY. “On September 3, in the event of an emergency, emergency food sets (weighing approximately 1.7 kg) were delivered using AirTruck 1, a logistics drone developed by Aeronext, to two villages (Orokubo area (distance approx. 3.7 km, approx. 10 minutes) and Ichimachi-Kawachi district (distance approx. 5.3 km, approx. 12 minutes)) that are expected to be isolated in the event of an emergency.”

Community members hope that drone delivery will help provide greater access to isolated communities outside of disaster response.  Mr. Hamaya, the campsite manager who received the Kawane tea set by drone delivery on September 2, commented, “I hope that it can be used not only in times of disaster but also in normal times, such as shopping support.”

Aeronext Co. and ACSL have jointly developed a mass-produced logistics drone from Japan, utilizing Aeronext’s unique 4D GRAVITY® 2 aircraft structure design technology. The GRAVITY 2 is a dedicated logistics aircraft, featuring one-way forward specialization designed for long-distance flight, with a mechanism that optimally places luggage near the ideal center of gravity of the aircraft and places the luggage horizontally and on top and bottom. “The prototype has flown in demonstration tests all over Japan and has the No. 1 flight record in Japan,” says the comapny announcement. “By optimizing aerodynamic characteristics by equalizing the rotation speed of the motor regardless of attitude, condition, or movement during flight, and controlling lift, drag, and center of gravity based on the shape and structure of the aircraft, Aeronext has developed an airframe structure design technology that improves the basic performance of industrial drones such as stability, efficiency, and maneuverability, as well as the transportation performance of drones dedicated to logistics.”

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