Chiba City, JP is piloting AVs

With easy access from nearby Narita Airport, the Tokyo region’s international gateway, this city is a natural test ground to explore the future of drone delivery. Since the city was designated as a National Strategic Special Zone for drone deliveries in 2016, the Chiba city government has formed partnerships with national government agencies and firms including Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.

In November 2016, a drone conducted a flight demonstration in which it flew over the water to complete a delivery from a distribution center on the shore of Tokyo Bay. In this experiment, a test operator used a smartphone app to order goods, triggering a drone to automatically take flight and make the 700-meter trip along the coastline to complete delivery. The drone was developed by Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory, a Chiba University spinout with $6.4m in backing.

Future tests targeted for 2019 will involve an actual live customer delivery from a distribution center on the coast of Tokyo Bay to the high-rise apartment complexes in Makuhari New City’s Wakaba Residential District 10 km away.

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