On Jan. 8, a cargo drone carrying a box of medicines traveled 3 kilometers from a cultural center in the city of Wajima, in Ishikawa Prefecture, touching down on the snow-covered grounds of Konosu Elementary School.

The medicines were then delivered to three people who had sought refuge at the school after losing their homes following the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that hit the Sea of Japan coast on Jan. 1.

The delivery marked the first time a drone has been used to transport medical or other supplies during a disaster in Japan. The moment was a reminder of the enormous potential of drones in times of disaster, while at the same time highlighting missed opportunities.