Drone Trial Taking Place at 7-Eleven in Japan’s Fukuoka City


Convenience store 7-Eleven is trialing 20-minute deliveries by drone on Nokonoshima Island in Fukuoka City in Japan as part of Tokyo’s Project for Building Business Models for Logistics Services Using Drones in Tokyo, DroneLife reported.

ANA Holdings, Japan’s major airline consortium and the group behind ALL NIPPON Airways and Air Japan, is overseeing the pilot program. The goal of the trial is to show that drone delivery in suburban areas is safe and practical and includes flights and delivery over areas that are partly densely populated.

Drone delivery for 7-Eleven is anticipated to reach full-scale Level 4 drone operations — unassisted flights over populated areas — in addition to having the ability to fly beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). The Japanese government is planning to remove the ban on Level 4 operations sometime this year.

See also: Amid Delivery Struggles, Drones May Be The Future Of Food On-Demand

A trial was already conducted at the 7-Eleven in Hinode, Nishitama District, Tokyo, which entailed installing a takeoff and landing site for drones at the Hinode Oguno store. Customers from four different delivery locations participated in the pilot program by placing orders online.

Once the delivery program is fully operational, drones will use the parking lots of existing stores to take flight, with 7-Eleven employees loading the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with up to 5 kg of merchandise. The entire system that allows a drone to function is called an unmanned aerial system (UAS).

The Japan UAS Industrial Development Association (JUIDA) has been facilitating and supporting the development of drone use in Japan since 2014. The industry group has over 13,000 members and 250 accredited drone pilot schools. It offers education, legislation and tradeshows, and also matches businesses to international collaborations with the public and the private sectors.

Read more: Drone Express CTO: Fully Autonomous Grocery Delivery Is on Its Way

“There are currently no shops that sell general goods on Nokonoshima, so residents need to take the ferry to the city to do their shopping,” according to a JUIDA translation of an article in a Japanese journal Logi-Biz. “During the tests, it was found that goods could be delivered within 20 minutes of being ordered.”

The goal is to launch 7-Eleven drone delivery in Japan as a permanent service in 2025.

Japan has over 21,000 7-Eleven stores, more than anywhere else in the world. Headquartered in Texas, the convenience storee has about 9,500 U.S. locations and over 70,000 worldwide.