Kobo parent Rakuten tests drone delivery in Japan


Strange as it might seem, Amazon isn’t the only e-book-related company testing delivery drones for physical goods. TechCrunch has an article about Rakuten, the parent company of Kobo and Overdrive, gearing up to test delivery drones of its own (from another of its companies, Autonomous Control System Laboratory) on a golf course in Japan starting in May.

The drones are to be used for a slightly less ambitious purpose than Amazon’s—instead of delivering packages to local recipients, it will deliver up to 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of food, snacks, and golf accessories to golfers out on the green when an order is placed via an Android app.

But that’s just for the purposes of the test. According to information Rakuten released, it has loftier purposes in mind, such as making deliveries in remote regions, transporting supplies during disasters, and Amazon-style e-commerce deliveries in general.

Drones are regulated in Japan, just as they are in the USA, so Rakuten will have to get permission for wider deployment of the drones just as Amazon will. But it’s interesting to see there is a drone delivery arms race gearing up—and unlike Amazon, Rakuten actually is proceeding to test an actual working system for deliveries. Can Amazon manage to keep up?


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