SENDAI – Municipalities and private firms are hoping robots and drones will be able to help with future disaster recovery efforts -- an initiative that incorporates lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake -- by sending out warnings, gauging damage and accessing places were people cannot. To that end, the Sendai Municipal Government is testing a speaker-equipped drone for sending evacuation warnings during flight. Drones are quieter than helicopters, meaning messages would be easier for those on the ground to hear, city officials said. In such a system, the drone would automatically take flight after receiving a warning from the country's J-Alert early warning system and would issue evacuation messages to local residents. In the 2011 disaster, two city government workers and three volunteer fire department rescuers were killed in the tsunami while warning local residents to evacuate.
The government in Fukushima, Japan released drone footage Thursday showing the progression made in the area's rebuilding process six years after an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown devastated the region. The videos showed a multitude of areas in the prefecture, including Iwaki City, about 30 miles south of the Fukushima plant, and Futaba, a town 11 miles north of the plant. The videos also showed reconstruction on roads and coastlines, areas severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. The government has been working for six years to revive the area. Earlier in May, a bill was enacted to accelerate reconstruction by using state funding to aid the decontamination process in certain districts, according to the Japan Times.
FUKUSHIMA – In a world first, a drone successfully delivered a flask of hot soup to surfers on Thursday during a test of an unmanned flying vehicle traveling a preset route of more than 10 km. The industry ministry and the Fukushima Prefectural Government were among those conducting the test in a coastal area of Minamisoma in the prefecture, north of the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Traveling at 43 kph, the drone took 15 minutes to cover the 12 km from the Fukushima Hama-Dori Robot Testing Zone to Kitaizumi, a popular surfing spot. It was the first test of its kind in the world involving a drone flying for more than 10 km on a programmed route to make a delivery, according to the prefectural government. The robot testing zone is a designated area for testing robots to be used during post-disaster relief activities.
FUKUSHIMA – Fukushima Prefecture is home to the largest number of award-winning sake brands for the sixth year in a row, marking a record in an annual competition, the National Research Institute of Brewing said Thursday. Nineteen brands from the prefecture won the Gold Prize at the Annual Japan Sake Awards, matching Hyogo Prefecture for the year's top spot. Judges, including technical officers from the National Tax Agency and master brewers, chose 232 brands as Gold Prize winners out of 850 brands submitted from across the country. "We achieved the sixth straight year of victory despite a severe situation due to rumors (about radiation contamination)," Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told a ceremony held in the prefectural government's head office in the city of Fukushima, referring to the fallout from the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. "I hope to promote the excellent sake produced in Fukushima both in and outside Japan," he added.