Fast forward (nice portable-cassette reference there) to 2015: Sony’s newest drone partnership, Aerosense, announced plans in late December to launch a relief drone project to provide aid to areas of Japan stricken by natural disasters. The drones, which appear to be a hybrid fixed-wing/rotor design, are reportedly the first of their kind to be deployed in Japan for relief missions, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.
The drones will be used to dispatch communications equipment, medical supplies to areas stricken by floods, earthquakes or other disasters that may make roads or navigable waters impassable.
In cooperation with Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, Aerosense will test the drones in the in Chiba Prefecture in January and February with an expected operational window of March.
The hybrid UAV resembles a swept-back wing model airplane with a rotor mechanism in the aft section. It measures 86 inches wide and 63 inches long and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing. Company officials say the drone has payload of up to 1 kilogram with a top speed of 62 mph giving the drone an effective mission radius of 60 miles.
According to Yomiuri Shimbun, the drone would have been helpful in Japan for such disasters as the 2014 blizzard in Tokushima Prefecture that cut off roads or flooding in eastern Japan this past fall that left residents stranded and short of supplies.
Aerosense is a partnership between Sony Mobile and Tokyo startup ZMP Inc. Beyond governmental uses for disaster aid, the company has no plans to offer a consumer model. As reported in DRONELIFE in July: “[Aerosense will] sell the services that drones can provide to such industries as agriculture and the inspection of infrastructure. It doesn’t seem, at least at first, that a consumer can walk into Best Buy and buy a Sony drone.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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