Lawson, Rakuten join to test drone delivery system in disaster-hit Minamisoma


Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. and Japanese cybermall operator said Friday that they will organize a demonstration test on Oct. 31 for drone delivery services in an area devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and the subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.

The test will be conducted in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, utilizing a Lawson outlet, a mobile shop and Rakuten’s drone.

When the traveling shop visits areas some 2.7 km from the convenience store, it will take orders from local residents and deliver products from the outlet, including warm cooked food.

The service will be available only on Thursdays during the test, and the experiment will be conducted over a period of six months.

The drone can carry up to 2 kg of products and deliver them in about seven minutes.

The central government lifted its evacuation order for Minamisoma in July last year after imposing it in the wake of the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Although residents have started returning to their homes, there are few places to buy foods and daily necessities.

Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu said a number of older people have difficulty visiting stores, expressing hope for contributing to the community with the mobile shop and drone delivery service.

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