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Fore: Rakuten’s delivery drones take to the golf course

TechCrunch TechCrunch 25/04/2016 Jon Russell

Last month we reported that Rakuten will test drone deliveries on a golf course in Japan, and now the company has released more information and video footage of how the system will work.

To refresh your memory, drones can provide food, snacks and golf accessories like new balls to players while they are out on the course. The drones are developed by Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory (ACSL), a Japan-based firm that Rakuten invested in.

Golfers simply use the accompanying app — which is only available for Android — to summon a drone. There are some caveats: the total purchase amount must be at least 100 yen ($0.90), the maximum weight of a delivery is 2kg, and the service is operational between 8:30am and 3pm due to safety.

The month-long trial starts May 9. It’s a unique way to test drones, and Rakuten said it plans to expand to more golf courses across Japan based on how things go. It is also looking to take things further in the longer term:

Rakuten is looking into the utilization of drones for deliveries in sparsely populated areas and mountainous regions, in transporting supplies during disasters and in its e-commerce businesses, including Rakuten Ichiba, and aims to accumulate technical and operational expertise through running the service and put it to use in developing further innovative drone delivery services.

Hat tip TechCrunch Japan

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