Sony enters drone business with winged vertical takeoff craft

A joint venture called Aerosense will target business users with monitoring and inspection services

An illustration of the vertical takeoff and landing craft to be developed by Aerosense, a drone startup backed by Sony Mobile and Tokyo robotics firm ZMP.

An illustration of the vertical takeoff and landing craft to be developed by Aerosense, a drone startup backed by Sony Mobile and Tokyo robotics firm ZMP.

Sony is getting into the drone business with winged machines that take off vertically and could be used in everything from agriculture to construction.

The electronics giant's mobile arm said Wednesday it will establish a company next month called Aerosense with Tokyo-based robotics firm ZMP.

The joint venture will develop its own drones and offer drone services to business users starting in 2016. The services will include measuring, surveying, observing and inspecting facilities.

Aerosense drones could be deployed in applications such as surveying remote mountain areas or gathering imagery before the construction of a high-rise building.

"They could also be used to inspect farmland to check for damage after a storm hits," a Sony spokeswoman said.

Imagery gathered by the drones will be processed by cloud-based servers. Few details about the winged drone concept illustration, attached to a ZMP press release, were available but more information is expected at an Aerosense event next month.

The winged vertical takeoff and landing craft is only one of several possible drone designs the startup will consider. It will operate in Japan and there are no plans for overseas expansion at the moment.

The Aerosense initiative was pushed by Sony Mobile Communications CEO Hiroki Totoki, who took charge last November in an attempt to spur interest in Sony's Xperia smartphones and revive the struggling business. The firm is trying to launch new business initiatives, especially in the Internet of Things (IoT) field.

Sony Mobile wants to combine its expertise in network technology and mobile device cameras, which are used in iPhones, with ZMP's know-how in autonomous control technology. Along with mobile gaming firm DeNA, ZMP is involved in a project to launch a robot taxi service for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The drone market in Japan remains relatively undeveloped amid a lack of comprehensive government regulations. However, the earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant four years ago have spurred researchers to develop survey drones for hazardous sites. Meanwhile, commercial services such as drones that can photograph and follow intruders at shopping malls and other large facilities are being developed.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetsonyconsumer electronicsroboticsInternet of ThingsSony MobileZMPAerosense

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook

I have had the pleasure of owning notebooks from Dynabook’s predecessor Toshiba for both work and leisure in the past. Toshiba’s attention to quality of build and design of the notebooks is second to none. The re-branding to Dynabook and the launch of the new range was completed in early 2019. I am pleased to confirm that not only did Dynabook further refine what Toshiba has left off; they have set a new benchmark for the ultra-light notebook category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?