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article imageDrones eyed to deliver medicines in Japan

By Lucky Malicay     Aug 21, 2016 in Technology
A group in Japan is launching a test involving airborne delivery of medicines as part of the plan to make drones play a crucial role during disasters.
To be conducted from fall until March, the trials will enable Japanese first responders to determine whether the transport of medical supplies during emergencies is faster by air than on land.
The tests, which will also focus on making airborne delivery accurate and resilient to weather conditions, will be carried out at the Kyushu University campus in Fukuoka city and other locations in Saga city.
“Drones add more options for rescuers to reach patients,” Yusuke Enjoji, an official in the Saga Prefectural Government, told The Japan Times.
Enjoji is the chief executive of the Emergency Medical and Disaster Coping Automated Drones Support System Utilization Promotion Council (EDAC), the group behind the project, which is funded by the Japanese internal affairs ministry as part of the drive to promote the Internet of things (IOT).
The council is hoping that rescuers could be able to use drones that will first respond to emergency calls delivering medicines and help describe the situation before they arrive.
Once the project succeeds, EDAC hopes to deploy drones in the capital Tokyo, where a no-drone zone is imposed by the national government for security reasons.
“Drones, the internet of things, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence … many cutting-edge technologies are emerging quickly. But we have not used them to their full potential as many people are still wary,” Enjoji said.
As the use of drones is becoming more popular in Japan, many companies across the country are now offering services using the technology.
Tokyo online advertising firm MicroAd Inc. unveiled a service using drones that create logos, shapes and pictures through LED lights during outdoor events. Called the “Sky Magic," the service develops a system that synchronizes the movements of drones that are each equipped with hundreds of lights.
In Chiba Prefecture, e-commerce company Rakuten Inc. delivers golf balls and light meals to customers on golf courses through its drones, which can carry items of up to two kilograms.
Since 2012, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. has been using drones for inspections and recovery works during disasters. Its flying machines can carry cable wires for emergency repairs of its facilities in devastated areas.
Along with self-driving tractors, drones are expected to make a huge impact on the farming sector in Japan, a country where the agricultural workforce is rapidly aging. Drones can be used to monitor soil conditions, making farming easier.
"We are seeing growing demand for farm equipment that can be operated easily, even by those who are not familiar with farm work," said Kubota president Masatoshi Kimata.
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