Japan big retailers Rakuten and Aeon test drone delivery service

Two of Japan’s big retailers are pursuing drone delivery services. Japan’s No. 1 online shopping site, Rakuten, is testing the concept by first testing a golf course delivery service.  Also, Aeon, Japan’s huge general merchandise retailer, tested the concept by performing a delivery of a bottle of wine.  These are two tests toward implementing future drone home delivery service in Japan.
The common component for both of these tests is the drone being used for the delivery operation … the Mini-Surveyor from Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd.  See more about this Japan made drone below.

Rakuten Drone Service

Rakuten (楽天), Japan’s e-commerce giant, is pursuing drone delivery service.
Check out the above video which is Rakuten’s official video promoting their new golf course drone delivery service.

Rakuten Delivery Drone
Image: Rakuten

According to engadget, Rakuten, like Amazon, is currently experimenting with how drones could be utilized to quickly deliver product to customers. Rakuten, however, has a taken a different route and has decided to start small to test the service concept on a specific golf course. From May 2016, players at a golf course in Japan’s Chiba prefecture will be able to use their phones while playing a round of golf to and request some new golf balls or refreshments be delivered to them. From there, based on the test, the thought is to look at expanding to other golf courses, with the end game being to ultimately be able to deliver directly to peoples’ homes some time in the future, similar to Amazon’s proposed Prime Air program.

Rakuten has even created a full website (http://soraraku.rakuten.co.jp)  and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/soraraku.social)  devoted to the new service …
そら楽 (Sora Raku) Rakuten Drone

Update November 2016
Rakuten has performed a new test with upgraded service capability. This time with NTT DoCoMo, the cellular LTE network was integrated for long distance delivery capability testing. Based on the experience gained from the “Sora Raku” drone-based delivery service launched in April 2016, Rakuten made further improvements to the product ordering app for users and the drone dashboard for controlling the drone. With these improvements combined with the new model of Rakuten’s “Tenku” delivery drone, which features a number of performance enhancements including water-resistance, Rakuten has developed a more advanced drone-based delivery solution. The PF1 model multicopter from ACSL served as the base for the new Tenku drone. The PF1 is capable of long-distance flight with fully autonomous control and is equipped with a parachute to slow the speed of the fall in an emergency, offering a greater level of safety than conventional drones.
Source: Rakuten Press Release

Aeon Drone Service

Aeon (イオン), Japan’s huge general merchandise retailer and shopping mall developer, having the largest operating revenue in Japan’s retail industry, drone delivery test … delivering a 720 milliliter (24 ounce) bottle of wine.  This was an initial test, toward the Aeon Mall, the company’s online shopping site, targeting actual drone home delivery services for the year 2019.


Mini-Surveyor MS-061A

Made in Japan, the Mini-Surveyor is from Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd. which is located at the Chiba University Knowledge-Intensive Collaborative Research Centre
The company is lead by Prof. Kenzo Nonami, who among other things is:
– Researcher and Senior Researcher, NASA
– Professor, Chiba University
– Director and Vice-President for Research, Chiba University

Mini-Surveyor MS-061A

The Mini-Surveyor MS-06LA is a 6 rotor (hexacopter) with the following specifications:

15″ props version
Diameter = 1130mm (44.5 in)
Height = 360mm (14 in)
Battery = LiPo 6S 12000mAh
Max. Take-off weight = 9kg (19.8 lbs)  [airframe 3kg (6.6 lbs)]
Max. payload = 6kg (13 lbs)  [3kg (6.6lbs) recommended]
Flight time = Approx. 10-30 mins, depending on payload, flight conditions etc.

13″ props version
Diameter = 1010mm (39.8 in)
Height = 360mm (14 in)
Battery = LiPo 6S 12000mAh
Max. Take-off weight = 8kg (17.6lbs)  [airframe 3kg (6.6lbs)]
Max. payload = 5kg (11lbs)  [2kg (4.4lbs)  recommended]
Flight time = Approx. 10-30 mins, depending on payload, flight conditions etc.

See the Mini-Surveyor in action performing one of its many roles.