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TEPCO Group, Zenrin and Rakuten examining 'drone highways' for drone logistics 2018-07-13 13:46:21
Conduct world's first demonstration of drone-based deliveries along power-line routes

TOKYO, July 12, 2018 - (JCN Newswire) - TEPCO Ventures, Inc., Zenrin Co., Ltd. and Rakuten, Inc. announced today that they have begun examining the utilization of "drone highways," or the airspace above infrastructure such as power transmission lines, for drone logistics. The three companies also announced that they safely carried out the world's first demonstration test utilizing a drone highway on July 27.

TEPCO Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., and map publisher Zenrin formed an alliance on March 29, 2017 to confirm the use of drone highways for safe drone-based deliveries. The concept, which is attracting increasing interest, is a focus of the "2018 Roadmap for the Industrial Revolution of the Sky," which was approved by the Public-Private Conference on Infrastructure Creation for Drones in Japan in June 2018.

To develop a drone highway, TEPCO and Zenrin have been studying how to combine data on TEPCO's infrastructure, such as transmission lines and towers, substations and utility poles, with Zenrin's three-dimensional maps of the sky, which are currently under development. Going forward, several test courses will be set up in eastern Japan's Kanto Region during 2018 to demonstrate the practical use of drone highways.

Internet services company Rakuten, which has been operating a drone-based delivery service called "Rakuten Drone," has joined the initiative. The first demonstration test, conducted in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture on July 27, successfully achieved the world's first drone-based delivery using a power line route for the flight path.

Going forward, TEPCO Ventures, Zenrin and Rakuten will conduct further demonstration tests to confirm the practicality of using drone highways for drone logistics.

Initiative Overview

(1) Three-dimensional rendering of power transmission towers and development of geo-fences and monitoring application (Zenrin)

A technology for creating three-dimensional renderings of power transmission towers is being developed and adopted.

Equipment for automatically detecting a drone's proximity to power transmission towers and transmission lines (geo-fences) is being developed and implemented.

In addition, a monitoring application to display in real time the status of inflight drones and geo-fence profiles is being developed.

(2) Installation of weather observation instruments (TEPCO Ventures)

Weather observation instruments were installed along the drone highway to ascertain weather conditions in real time.

Drone flights were operated in accordance with weather conditions ascertained with the observation instruments.

Drone flights will be made even safer by analyzing big data obtained from observation instruments.

(3) Flying the drone highway (TEPCO Ventures, Zenrin and Rakuten)

"Rakuten Drone," an autonomous drone-based delivery service, flew one way on a drone highway for approximately 3km (June 27, 2018)

The drone successfully delivered boxed lunches to local residents while maintaining a safe distance from power transmission infrastructure.

About TEPCO Ventures

TEPCO Ventures is a Tokyo-based wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., Japan's largest electrical utility. TEPCO Ventures develops both wholly owned subsidiaries within the TEPCO Group and joint-venture companies with partners in various industries either in Japan or overseas. The company is exploring various fields for next-generation business by fusing platforms for energy and other industries.

About Zenrin Co., Ltd.

Founded in 1948 in Beppu, Oita Prefecture of Japan by Masatomi Osako as a publisher of tourist maps, ZENRIN has a history of over 60 years in the mapping arena. Having great reputations for wide range of maps for various purposes. These maps are based on ZENRIN residential maps which covers the whole area of Japan. In addition to maps, ZENRIN possesses a strong market share in map software, in-car navigation software and related IT services. Moreover, ZENRIN has expanded its opportunities overseas with offices in the U.S., Europe, India and Taiwan, further extending the already expansive cartographic database. ZENRIN will continue to strive to compile cartographic databases that cross borders and pursue further expansion of our products in the relatively new fields of digital maps and IT map distribution services.

About Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten, Inc. is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to more than 1.2 billion members around the world. The Rakuten Group has over 15,000 employees, and operations in 30 countries and regions. For more information visit

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