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Part of Fukushima Robot Test Field to Open

World's first test base for drone operation and long-distance flight control

July 19, 2018

Joint Press Release with Fukushima Prefecture, NEDO, Minamisoma City and Namie Town

On July 20, 2018, a part of Fukushima Robot Test Field (RTF), the world’s first test base for drone operation and controlling long-distance flights control will open.

This opening will contribute to development of an environment in which Japan is able to conduct safe and smooth test-flights for drones and to accelerate achievement of world-leading drone-based distribution and other systems. As the first effort in a series of tests, an open-to-the-public test of drone operation control will be conducted on August 9, 2018.

1. Partial opening of the test field, the world’s first test base

Under the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme, METI and Fukushima Prefecture have been advancing development of Fukushima RTF in Minamisoma City and Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture. Mainly targeting onshore, undersea and aerial field robots (e.g., disaster-response robots, underwater exploration robots and drones used for distribution, infrastructure inspection, disaster response and other purposes), the test field is a research and development base the likes of which the world has never seen, in which researchers are able to conduct R&D, demonstration tests, performance assessments and pilot training in simulated environments at the RTF that are very similar to environments in which drones are actually utilized.

On July 20, 2018, METI and Fukushima Prefecture will open a communications tower, a multi-function facility including flight-control, in-flight monitoring, long-range and inter-drone communication and weather monitoring to ensure safe drone flights across the flight zone. This is the first facility to be opened at the RTF.

Along with this, Fukushima Prefecture will set an approximate-13-km area as a “wide-area flight zone” stretching between Minamisoma City, where the RTF is located, and Namie Town to develop an environment for smooth implementation of drone tests, thanks to the successful achievements of Fukushima Prefecture in intermediating over 80 drone flight tests over the Hama-Dori area and obtaining the consent of the people in the local areas.

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2. Schedule for the open-to-public test

On August 9, 2018, as an effort under its Project for Achieving an Energy-Conserving Society in which Robots and Drones Play Important Roles, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) will implement a test for piloting drones, a kick-off initiative for organizations to make use of the RTF.

The project aims to achieve a society in which drones are regularly and ubiquitously employed in a safe and secure manner, and to this end, it has been advancing R&D involving a control system for drones.

Taking this opportunity, NEC Corporation, NTT DATA Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., NTT Docomo Inc. and Rakuten, Inc. will make use of facilities at the communication tower as part of the efforts for the NEDO project, and will simultaneously conduct drone test flights, simulating three cases in which drones may be used: distribution, disaster surveys and inspection.

For multiple drones to occupy the same airspace at the same time, the respective drone operators must set safe flight routes and adjust timing for takeoffs and landings.

In light of this need for coordination, the demonstration test will utilize an operation control system to control and collect data on the flight schedules of three drones and analyze this information and other data sent from a weather observation device installed in the communication tower. This approach will contribute to the most efficient and safest drone flight routes and optimal determination of timing for takeoffs and landings.

Reference:

*Note: The period of the project is five years from FY2017 to FY2021, and the FY2018 budget is 3.22 billion yen.

3. Contact counter

Robot Industry Promotion Office, Commerce, Industry and Labor Division, Fukushima Prefecture
Telephone: 024-521-8047

Division in Charge

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