Japanese companies demonstrate drone deliveries between self-driving cars

KDDI Corporation and Aisan Technology report they have successfully demonstrated the use of drones to transport a package from one self-driving moving car to another self-driving moving car.

“This is the first time in Japan that a drone has successfully taken off and landed in line with the position of a moving self-driving car,” said a joint press release. “This demonstration was conducted in a scenario in which a drone carrying luggage took off from a self-driving car, flew in a hilly and mountainous area, and then returned to the self-driving car. We used high-precision positioning for the demonstration. The two companies plan to use self-driving cars for large-scale deliveries from urban areas around 2030, when labour shortages will become apparent, and drones for routes where transportation from land is difficult.”

“In this demonstration, we will utilize the “cooperative control platform” (hereafter referred to as “this platform”), which integrates the operation of autonomous driving vehicles and the operation of drones, and high-precision positioning. We envision a use case in which drones are combined to automatically deliver parcels.

“In order to improve the efficiency of delivery, there are cases where the autonomous vehicle must move from the location where the drone was launched, and cases where the drone must return to a different autonomous vehicle than the autonomous vehicle that took off. . In this demonstration, it was confirmed that the drone could land accurately on the autonomous driving vehicle by sequentially controlling the drone while referring to the position information of the autonomous driving vehicle through coordinated control using this platform.”

“The drone is equipped with a communication module that enables both cellular and satellite communication. We confirmed that even in areas where cellular communication is not available, by switching to satellite communication, automatic flight can be performed while maintaining connectivity with this platform.

“The drone utilizes the PPP-RTK high-precision positioning service. The PPP-RTK method is a new high-precision positioning method that combines the advantages of the wide coverage area of ​​the PPP method and the high positioning accuracy of the RTK method, with enhanced mobility. By using the PPP-RTK method, it became possible to grasp the position of the drone in centimeters on average, and it was possible to land on the self-driving car.

“We will expand the functions of this platform so that everything from package delivery planning to delivery and return can be performed automatically, with the aim of social implementation of automated package delivery services that utilize self-driving cars and drones.

Functions to be expanded:

  • Function for cooperative control of multiple autonomous vehicles and drones
  • A 3D map platform that aggregates camera images and point cloud data acquired by self-driving cars and drones, and generates and updates high-precision 3D maps
  • Automatic drone flight path generation function using 3D map infrastructure

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