The city of Chiba will begin testing drone delivery of packages by 2020 after a government advisory panel designated it as a strategic special zone this week.
Drone use is currently regulated under the Civil Aeronautics Act which put new restrictions into effect on Dec 10.
However, the government panel, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, designated Chiba as a special zone for drone usage, along with Hiroshima Prefecture, Ehime Prefecture's Imaji City, and Fukuoka Prefecture's Kitakyushu City.
Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai said: "We are pleased to have the opportunity to take a leap forward," Sankei Shimbun reported.
According to Chiba City, their plan is to have suppliers deliver goods to the Makuhari-Shintoshin area from logistic hubs in maritime areas in Funabashi City and Ichikawa City which are about 10 kilometers away.
Kumagai said the city has been in contact with companies such as Amazon and Rakuten in order to carry out the plan.
Amazon has been conducting trials in the U.S., but questions remain about package deliveries by drones. For example, at what height will they fly and can they fly in bad weather? Also, will there be special drop-off spots?
The Japanese government foresees a need to use drones to deliver supplies, such as food and medicines to remote areas or areas cut off by floods and landslides or other disasters.© Japan Today