World Bulletin / News Desk
The government of Japan, a country with a proven track record in electronics and robotics, is looking to fast track industry-friendly regulation to give its drone sector an edge over the United States.
Companies from motorcycle maker Yamaha Motor to security firm Secom Co are readying drone technologyand services, as advisers to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drive a regulatory overhaul.
The Robot Revolution Realization Committee, an advisory panel appointed by Abe, will review existing radio and civil aeronautics laws and set up industry-run best practice for drones. Another panel is asking companies for ideas on how to open up new special economic zones in Tokyo and other big cities to drones on a test basis. The Fukushima area, blighted by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, could also become a "field test zone" for robots and drones, largely free of regulation.
"We want to keep an eye on the world's drone market, starting with the United States, and consider Japan's way of doing things," said Tamotsu Nomakuchi, who heads the robot panel. "It's not about copying other markets, but learning about them and creating something better."
The only aviation regulations covering drones in Japan require that they fly below 150 meters and at least 9 kms (5.6 miles) away from airports. Drones used in agriculture need two operators, with precautions for the surrounding environment.
Japan has been using drones in its farming industry since the 1980s, when an unmanned Yamaha R-50 helicopter took to the air to spray pesticide on rice crops. Today, more than 2,500 agriculture drones are in operation.
Secom will this month launch a service for small businesses that includes having a surveillance drone that can be scrambled to take photos of an intruder when an alarm sounds. Spokeswoman Asuka Saito said the company also wants to pitch its security drones for use at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japanese drone industry supporters have dubbed 2015 "Year One of the Era of the Drone." (Additional reporting by Maki Shiraki; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Mart 2015, 12:49