As Japan positions itself to take advantage of the growing trend in drones, another sector is popping up in the promising market -- drone schools. Industries ranging from agriculture to security are setting their eyes on the benefits of the device. And although the aerial vehicles are capable of autonomous flight, skilled pilots need to be on hand in case something goes wrong. "The industrial use of drones will grow more to replace some work previously handled by humans," said Kazunori Fujiwara, a spokesman at the Drone Pilot Association, a Tokyo-based group that promotes pilot education. "There are still not enough pilots.
For residents of Kosuge, an idyllic village nestled in a valley deep in the mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture, fast food is a luxury. There aren't any convenience stores or supermarkets in the tiny community, let alone a McDonald's. So when Aeronext Inc. celebrated its 100th on-demand drone delivery in Kosuge in July, the startup treated villagers to fast food chain Yoshinoya Co.'s signature gyūdon beef bowls -- steamed rice topped with thinly sliced beef and simmered onions. Amid a small crowd of curious onlookers, hot meals prepared in a Yoshinoya kitchen car were hauled onto spider-like drones that took off in regular intervals to several drop-off stations dotted around the village. For those who got to savor the dish, it was a taste of the city delivered by air, and a glimpse of a future in which these flying devices could become an essential part of rural life.
A drone carrying a package sails through the air, touching down to make a delivery right on a customer's doorstep. Inc. wowed the world in 2013 with a video purporting to show what the future of the delivery industry would look like. But are we any closer to that now? The answer seems to be no -- at least in Japan. The nation is set to take a step forward in the sector this year as the government prepares to deregulate aviation rules so delivery firms can use drones in rural areas.
In fact, fire frequencies are projected to increase by approximately 27% globally by 2050. Areas such as North America, Northern Eurasia, and Australia are deemed to be most susceptible to wildfires, making finding effective methods to respond to them increasingly more important. Increasingly, fire departments across the globe have started to deploy first responder drones to ensure firefighter safety as well as enhance operational effectiveness when tackling a wide range of emergency sites including oil wells, high rises, and wildfires. In response to a recent forest fire that broke out in Athens, Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said that the armed forces would strengthen their capabilities in fire prevention, deploying drones over other vulnerable sites across the country to obtain accurate data. Drone deployment in a fire emergency ensures the protection of personnel, gathers situational awareness speedily and accurately, and provides a cost-effective helicopter replacement and enables fast mapping for incident response and recovery.
Drone startup Skydio today announced the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) statewide approval to fly Skydio drones beyond visual line of sight to inspect bridges. Skydio, which describes the waiver as the first of its kind, says the NCDOT will be able to conduct maintenance activities without the use of visual observers like trained pilots or staff. A recent study by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials found that taxpayer cost per bridge inspection can be reduced 75% by switching from traditional methods to drones. The Minnesota Department of Transportation found that using drones for bridge inspection offsets some or all of the costs, depending on the bridge configuration and location, with a trial of drone-assisted inspections saving an average of 40% over traditional methods and providing ostensibly superior data and reporting. Going forward, the NCDOT's inspectors can send Skydio 2 drones to inspect critical structures below bridges in North Carolina instead of conducting rappels or using "snooper trucks."