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Japanese pilot project tests UTM environment, complies with existing regulations

These successful pilots were conducted as part of the Drones and Robots for Ecologically Sustainable Societies project (DRESS) project entrusted to Persol Process & Technology by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). With Bird Initiative acting as the representative, Hokkaido Drone Association, FRS, HELICAM, the National Institute of Informatics of the Research Organization of Information and Systems (NII), and Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance together conducted the experiment from September 7 to October 30, 2021.

Drones offer exciting new possibilities, but their full potential is limited by restrictions on their ability to fly beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) of their operators. BVLOS operations are currently limited to remote islands, mountainous areas, and sparsely populated areas. The DRESS project was launched in 2017 in an effort to gain approval for BVLOS flights in populated areas, also known as Level 4 flights, by FY2022. The results from the Wakkanai tests could help achieve this goal. The tests in Wakkanai each held different purposes aimed to resolve challenges that still affect drone operation – implementing new ideas to solve regional issues (seal monitoring), establishing guidelines (combatting fisheries poaching), addressing practical issues for already legalized operations (takeoff and landing at passenger airports), and improving guidelines (delivery of pharmaceutical supplies).

Details of the individual projects can be found here.

Additional background available here.

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