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Development and Commercialization of Platform Technology for Small Secure-and-Reliable Aerial Photography Drones

December 7, 2021

On December 7, ACSL Ltd. announced the commercialization of the small aerial photography drone "SOTEN," based on R&D results from a project for Technical Base Development for Secure and Reliable Drones led by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). This is expected to further drive effective use of secure and reliable drones in the government and private sectors toward solving various societal issues.

1. Background

In recent years, the leveraging of drones in the public sector and various other fields has expanded, as the devices are being used for different purposes, such as surveillance, investigating disaster situations, and inspecting old infrastructure. This growing need has given rise to a demand for drones with strong flight capabilities and image data security.

Against this background, NEDO launched a project for Technical Base Development for Secure and Reliable Drones*1 in FY2020, and ACSL Ltd. has commercialized SOTEN (a small aerial photography drone) based on R&D results from the project. The company will hold a launch event today, December 7.

2. Summary of the results

Through much research and development based on user needs, the newly-commercialized small aerial photography drone SOTEN has been designed with the following features:

  1. Prevent data leakage and extraction with security measures according to ISO15408,*2 and resist hijacking attempts
  2. Small and lightweight (dimensions of about 637 mm x 560 mm when unfolded and weight of 1.7 kg) and highly portable (e.g., folding propeller arms and easily detachable camera)
  3. High maneuverability and flight performance and a scalable flight controller compatible with the industry-standard vehicle control protocol MAVLink*3
  4. Includes a 4K camera with 20 megapixel resolution, infrared and multispectral cameras, and a zoom lens
  5. Acquires highly precise location information using the Sub-meter Level Augmentation Service (SLAS) of the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System Michibiki

Figure 1: SOTEN body (left photo), body when stored (middle), transmitter (right photo)
(Courtesy of ACSL Ltd.)

3. Expected effects

With the newly-commercialized small aerial photography drone SOTEN entering the market, further promotion of secure and reliable drone usage is expected for both corporate applications (such as inspecting critical infrastructure) and the public sector's needs (such as investigating disaster situations and inspecting old infrastructure).

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will continue to cooperate with stakeholders such as drone-related businesses, industry organizations, and related ministries and agencies to support and promote the spread of industrial use of secure and reliable drones in various fields, such as investigations, logistics, inspections, and surveys.

*1: Project based on the cost to develop base technology for secure and reliable drones in METI's FY2019 supplementary budget.
*2: An international standard for computer security issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
*3: Short for Micro Air Vehicle Link, it is a protocol for transmitting and receiving communication data between a drone and a ground station.

Reference

Division in Charge

Advanced Air Mobility Office, Industrial Machinery Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau