This week’s featured article


Despite a spate of headlines showing drone users to be reckless attention-seekers or outright dangerous, the industry believes the sky is the limit for demand for unmanned copters.

Representatives attending Japan’s first major industry exhibition said they expect the market for unmanned multirotor aerial vehicles to soar in years ahead.

Participants at the International Drone Expo at Makuhari Messe also said proper regulations are needed for both the industry and users. They welcome the fact that the government is now trying to develop rules for drone use.

“I understand that there is some criticism, but drones will be more widely used, without a doubt,” said Masaya Kikuchi, an engineer with Chuo Electronics Co.

The Tokyo-based company makes systems that enable drones to fly without human control.

Kikuchi predicts that the market will develop around businesses rather than consumers. For example, construction companies can use drones to examine the condition of bridges in instances where it would be difficult for a human to reach, and security firms can operate them for surveillance.

The fact that drones have made media headlines recently might have stirred interest.

An unmanned quadcopter carrying a radioactive payload was found on the roof of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office on April 22. Other incidents include when a drone was flown by mistake onto the grounds of the British Embassy in April, and when another, flown by a 15-year-old boy, fell within the grounds of Zenkoji Temple in Nagano.

The radioactive drone case prompted the government to set about drafting rules. It is reportedly considering requiring people to register their names and addresses when purchasing one. It also plans to ban overflights at facilities such as the prime minister’s office, the Imperial Palace and the Diet.

Currently, people are basically free to fly drones anywhere at altitudes below 250 meters, except near airports and some parks.

First published in The Japan Times on May 21.

Warm up

One-minute chat about technology.


Collect words related to the sky; e.g., “blue,” “rain,” “plane.”

New words

1) spate: an unexpected rush; e.g., “We had a spate of complaints.”

2) outright: complete or total; e.g., “That’s an outright lie.”

3) criticism: negative comment or judgment. ; e.g., “The movie provoked bitter criticism.”

4) predict: foretell; e.g., “We cannot predict our future.”

5) prompt: to cause or provoke; e.g., “The announcement prompted me to change my plans.”

Guess the headline

D_ _ _ _-makers say de_ _ _ _ will take off in Japan


1) What is a drone? What are some examples of the work that drones can do?

2) What accidents and other incidents with drones are mentioned?

3) What regulations for the use of drones are being considered?

Let’s discuss the article

1) If you had a drone, what would you like to do with it?

2) What are your predictions and concerns about drones?

3) What rules do you think we should set for the use of drones?



ドローンに対しても、この未来的なロボットが今実際に現実社会の中で縦横無尽に空を飛びまわり始めていることに驚きを覚えた人も多いのではないでしょうか。 世の中のあらゆることと同様、最先端技術もポジティブな点とネガティブな点を持ち合わせています。その知名度が一気に上がったきっかけが世の中を動揺させるものであったドローンに対しては、これからも期待と不安を持って社会が注目していくでしょう。



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