Tokyo, Jan. 27 (Jiji Press)–Telecommunications company KDDI Corp. <9433>, map maker Zenrin Co. <9474> and others in Japan launched a drone delivery service using U.S. aerospace company SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet access service in Chichibu, a mountainous city in the eastern Japan prefecture of Saitama, on Thursday.
By connecting a drone to the Starlink service that provides a stable communication environment even in mountain areas, the new delivery service allows residents in a Chichibu district affected by a road closure following a mudslide in September last year to receive food and other supplies on a regular basis.
According to KDDI, it is the first time that a regular drone delivery service using the Starlink service by SpaceX, officially called Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has been launched in Japan.
KDDI established in Chichibu a base station of its “au” mobile phone service that is compatible with the Starlink service. A communication environment indispensable for controlling drones has been secured in the mountain area where it is difficult to set up optical fiber networks, thanks to the use of the Starlink service.
Under the new service, food, drugs and other items ordered by the residents will be delivered once a week until the end of March. The drone used in the service can carry goods weighing up to 5 kilograms in total, flying autonomously on a route of some 3 kilometers to the disaster-affected district.[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]