Amazon.com may be implementing drone delivery for the first time in Chiba, Japan, as part of Japan’s efforts to relax regulations in certain regions, Asia Nikkei reports.
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe committed to supporting the drone industry, which he says is a significant part of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” when he promised to slash regulations that inhibited innovation and growth in the sector in early November. Forming a panel to make recommendations on the best ways to provide infrastructure for drone businesses, he expressed hopes that the industry would help to provide a boost to Japan’s economy.
This was quickly followed by a ban on all hobby drones in Japan’s major cities one month later, as fears of terrorism spurred by a drone full of radioactive material landing on the Prime Minister’s office. The legislative ban included sweeping regulations against drone operation in populous areas, at crowded events, and over government and utility structures.
Now the Japanese government is attempting to blend the two drone-related directives by creating special “deregulation” zones in certain cities. The zones are designed to be laboratories to test the effects of deregulation, and are used by the Abe administration to support a variety of different businesses.
The city of Chiba, who requested to be included as a deregulation zone, may now be the site of Amazon’s drone delivery trials, a senior Amazon official said at a meeting between government and business last month. Amazon has conducted drone delivery trials in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., but regulations have prevented them from implementing the commercial service.
To accommodate drone delivery of prescription medicines and “daily necessities” in Chiba, several laws will be relaxed. The maximum flight altitude for drones may be suspended, as will the line of sight requirement for drone operations. An exemption to the Japanese law prohibiting consumers from ordering prescription drugs without going to hospitals or pharmacies may also be enacted.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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