Drone deliveries are arriving at a Japanese golf course

Shopping portal Rakuten is launching a drone delivery service at a course near Tokyo

Golfers in Japan will soon be able to get drinks, snacks, and other products delivered to them by drone while they're out on the course.

Rakuten, a major Japanese shopping portal, will launch the drone delivery service in May at a course in Chiba, to the east of Tokyo.

Golfers will be able to order from a menu of roughly 100 items through a dedicated Android app, and each drone delivery will be limited to 2kgs of goods. The service will be offered daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and suspended during bad weather.

To operate the service, Rakuten has a dedicated drone depot where an operator will pack the goods and set the delivery location. Once the drone has completed its delivery, it will autonomously return to the depot.

Rakuten is using a drone from Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory (ACSL), a Chiba University spin-off company that Rakuten bought a stake in March. The drone is a six-rotor device that has been modified to carry goods in a small box on its underbelly.

The drone delivery service will launch on May 9 and will be offered for a month. Rakuten says its future will be based on feedback received from golfers and, if it proves successful, the service could be expanded to other courses in Japan.

Drone delivery is being pursued by other companies because it's seen as a cheap and efficient way of delivering small goods to consumers. It first came to prominence when Amazon announced plans for such a service, but has since been tested by other companies including Google, DHL, and Australia Post.

But there are several obstacles to overcome before trial services become commercial operations. The largest of those is the myriad of safety concerns that need to be considered when flying and landing a drone autonomously. The drone needs to be able to avoid obstacles like trees and power lines and ensure that it doesn't endanger people or animals when it lands and takes off.

Rakuten has set up several brightly marked drone delivery points on the Chiba golf course, and the relatively small delivery area means obstacles like trees can be mapped out and easily avoided.

160425 rakuten drone 3 Rakuten

A Rakuten delivery drone to be used on a Japanese golf course is seen in a promotional video from the company.

In one of its most recent promotional videos, Amazon shows a customer laying out an Amazon logo on their lawn and the drone landing on it. It appears the company is considering asking users to specify the exact delivery point by placing such a marker.

There are also several legal and regulatory conditions that need to be met. In the U.S., it is illegal for a drone to be autonomously flown out of the line of sight of the operator, although the Federal Aviation Administration is currently rewriting those rules.

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 drones

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

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?