Tokyo residents may someday see regular drone patrols over urban skies thanks to a recent pilot program by Japanese drone provider Terra Drone.
On Thursday, the company showcased a test mission for real estate giant Mitsubishi Estate. The flight demonstrated surveillance and logistics capabilities while flying over a busy, dense cityscape.
Patrolling autonomously over Tokyo’s largest business district, Marunouchi, Terra Drone UAVs navigated between some of the city’s tallest buildings at an altitude of around 8 feet. Aerial footage exposed potential bottlenecks and security threats. This allows technicians to create solutions on the fly.
The demonstration may play a key role in Mitsubishi Estate’s Marunouchi UrbanTech Voyager program. The company says it wants to“transform the Marunouchi district into a business and innovation hub by utilizing urban-development-friendly artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and robotics,” according to a Terra Drone statement.
“In Japan, drone use is active in mountainous areas and remote islands, but full-scale use in urban areas is not expected before 2022,” a Terra Drone spokesperson said. “This demonstration was aimed to showcase how a robust UTM system can make it possible to not only avoid collisions but also to realize the efficiency of logistics and security operations in everyday towns.”
The demonstration dovetails with Terra Drones global strategy to market a unified, unmanned traffic management system for corporate and government clients.
In June, Terra Drone demonstrated a new UTM system developed jointly with drone traffic management firm Unifly at Japan’s Fukushima Robot Test Field before more than a dozen trade and science officials from Taiwan.
The Pentagon’s top think-tank, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is also experimenting with urban, drone-based security systems, recently unveiling the OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program.
OFFSET launches teams of autonomous air and ground robots on test missions to “isolate an urban objective” (translation – cut off city blocks in a crisis). The program includes multiple “sprint” efforts, which focus on different elements of the command, control, and collaboration among large numbers of vehicles and people.