In world first, drone delivers soup to surfers off Fukushima Prefecture

Kyodo

In a world first, a drone successfully delivered a flask of hot soup to surfers on Thursday during a test of an unmanned flying vehicle traveling a preset route of more than 10 km.

The industry ministry and the Fukushima Prefectural Government were among those conducting the test in a coastal area of Minamisoma in the prefecture, north of the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Traveling at 43 kph, the drone took 15 minutes to cover the 12 km from the Fukushima Hama-Dori Robot Testing Zone to Kitaizumi, a popular surfing spot.

It was the first test of its kind in the world involving a drone flying for more than 10 km on a programmed route to make a delivery, according to the prefectural government.

The robot testing zone is a designated area for testing robots to be used during post-disaster relief activities.

An official of the prefecture said that as Japan has only a limited number of areas where long-distance drones can be tested, Fukushima will invite robot- and drone-related businesses to the prefecture as part of efforts to recover from the nuclear accident.

Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai said he hoped the success of the test “will encourage many drone and robot researchers to come to Minamisoma.”

Other contributors to the test included the Autonomous Control System Laboratory headed by Kenzo Nonami, a leading drone system developer in Japan.