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Working toward implementing a logistics service for remote islands using drone deliveries of daily necessities and medicines: ANA, Nagasaki University and others start verification experiment


On February 9, four organizations - ANA HOLDINGS (Representative Director and Chairman: Shinya Katanozaka), Goto City (Mayor: Ichitaro Noguchi), Soraya (Representative Director: Sho Hamamoto) and Nagasaki University (President: Shigeru Kohno) - announced that they had begun an experiment to verify the implementation of a drone delivery and logistics service on remote islands. The aim is to construct a logistical system model rooted in everyday life that can send daily necessities and other items via drones operated by local staff.

The drone used in the demonstration experiment

The experiment ran from February 9 to March 8, and had drones (multi-copter type drones that can carry 4-5 kg and have a maximum flight speed of 10 meters per second) deliver daily items and medicines (prescription drugs for example) from Fukue Port (Goto City, Nagasaki Prefecture) to the two remote secondary islands (remote islands with no sea or air routes) of Hisaka and Kaba. The drones were operated by local staff who were trained by ANA.

The flight segments will consist of two routes: from Fukue Port to near Hisaka Clinic (approximately 12 km) and from Fukue Port to Ifuki Port (approximately 13 km). The items for delivery are prescription drugs (placebo drugs are scheduled to be sent for the experiment) and daily necessities handled by a supermarket that is cooperating with this project (Daikyo Value Fukue Store).

Daikyo Value Fukue Store
Provided by Daikyo Plaza Co.,Ltd.

This experiment will verify the following three areas:

  • The delivery of daily necessities: the creation of a system through which people can order items through an online supermarket and receive the items that day near their home, as is possible on the mainland.
  • The delivery of medicines: the creation of a system that combines online guidance for medication administration (how to take medicines) and drone delivery, and enables patients to receive prescription drugs on the same day they undergo a medical examination, as is possible on the mainland. This is designed to solve the issue of managing inventories of medicines in clinics in remote areas.
  • The establishment of an operational system: ANA will cooperate with local businesspeople to provide operational training, which will create an operational model that makes use of local staff.

ANA is responsible for remote drone operation, management and training, creating a delivery management system, including delivery notices, and for organizing this experiment. Soraya is chiefly responsible for drone operations, and also for coordinating with local residents, local governments and harbor and fishing port officials. Goto City is in charge of coordinating with the local residents who are participating in the experiment and with other people who are involved. Nagasaki University is responsible for building consensus and reconciling the views of the doctors, nurses and pharmacists who provide online medication administration guidance.

Goto City is carrying out this experiment following the selection of the FY2021 Goto City Drone i-Land Project: Unmanned Logistics Between Remote Islands Experiment for the Cabinet's Regional Revitalization Promotion Grant. The city has been carrying out unmanned logistics experiments between remote islands as an initiative for this project since 2018, with the aim of solving a problem unique to secondary remote islands: people cannot receive proper medical care or services.

To date, ANA has continued to work on verifying the commercialization of drone delivery services, which were the target of the lifting of the Lv4 ban (unassisted, non-visual flights in occupied areas) in the 2022 revisions to the Civil Aeronautics Act.

In addition, Nagasaki University has spent many years focusing on education, research and diagnostic support for medical care on remote islands and has promoted the introduction of remote medical care. This experiment will use Hisaka Clinic as a base to verify this support method for medical treatment in a real remote area by combining online medication administration guidance and the transportation of medicines via drones to patients on Hisaka Island from the main Fukue Pharmacy on Fukue Island.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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