Delivery Drones Bring Drinks And Balls To Golfers In Japan

Delivery Drones Bring Drinks And Balls To Golfers In Japan

An ecommerce giant in Japan is testing out drones on golfers

Leo Lutero
  • 1 april 2016

Rakuten, known to many as Japan’s Amazon, is considering using drones to deliver products to customers. Not unlike Amazon’s Prime Air program, which PSFK has reported on in 2013, Rakuten plans to fly its drones over Japan hoping to bring faster delivery to its clients Japanese paper NHK reports.

However, instead of the secretive testing Amazon is doing, Rakuten will already be giving the public a taste of the tech—as long as they golf in the Chiba Prefecture Onjuku-machi.

Golf is the perfect sport for drones. The venue is often a wide, yet not too wide, stretch of field without tall obstruction. Demand is expected to be just for drinks or spare golfballs, easy stuff to carry for a drone.

Japanese Newspaper NHK says that the drones will fly from a base in the golf course and towards customers. It will deliver goods to players who order using their smartphones. With this approach, Rakuten will be able to see if drone delivery is a feasible delivery method to the shopping platform.

rakuten drone 2 psfk.png

It is interesting to note that unlike Amazon, which has a behemoth warehouse and logistics operation, Rakuten allows sellers to use their platform to sell goods from their own locations. While a central warehouse proves more beneficial for a drone delivery system, it’s interesting to think what Rakuten could get from it.

In connection with this, the Japanese ecommerce giant has made investments in Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory, Inc. (ACSL), a university-affiliated developing drone technology. Rakuten describes ACSL as “aiming to capture the market with a purely domestically-made drone capable of being used in industrial settings.”

Although testing in golf courses is benign, NHK has already highlighted many fears about drone technology, including it’s potential use in terrorism and other safety issues surrounding the developing field. The article also highlights Japan’s aviation authority’s are becoming wary and applying new restrictions.

There have been previous innovations that rely on technology with feet planted on the ground. The offspring of autonomous cars and Amazon’s drones, these technologies parole sidewalks with the package rolling gently on roads. There is the single-wheel Transwheel, the much rounder Carry and pizza robot Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU).

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