Business / Tech

Japan Post to begin test deliveries using drones in Fukushima next month

JIJI

Japan Post Co. has said that it will begin to test drone deliveries between two post offices in Fukushima Prefecture next month.

The transport ministry on Friday approved an application by the company for flying a drone without an operator watching the airborne device or an assistant who monitors its movements.

In past test flights, operators flew drones with assistants checking the movements of the devices by eye. This time, flights will be conducted without such an assistant for the first time.

The mail delivery arm of Japan Post Holdings Co. is expected to start the test flights early next month.

“It’s a big step toward realizing delivery services using cutting-edge technologies,” parent company President Masatsugu Nagato told a news conference Friday.

The test deliveries will be conducted between a post office in the city of Minamisoma and another in the town of Namie, about 9 km apart.

Packages of documents weighing up to 2 kg will be transported to their destinations in about 10 minutes. The postal group aims to put the service into commercial use mainly in remote rural areas.