JAL and Matternet team up on drones

Japan Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding with California-based drone maker Matternet to explore medical delivery services by drone, as well as to further develop a drone delivery business in Japan.

The partnership will see Matternet’s M2 drone system utilised in trials in Tokyo, before assessing opportunities for a healthcare delivery business model.

Explaining the reason for the partnership, JAL said: “Due to the lack of delivery personnel and the impact of the global pandemic, the necessity to respond to changes in the logistics industry has become more urgent than ever before, and the use of drones may help realise automatic, contactless delivery services on remote islands, mountainous areas and even within the city.”

This is the Tokyo-based carrier’s latest foray into drone technology. Earlier this month, JAL joined a consortium of four other Japanese companies to study the feasibility of drone deliveries in the medical, food and security sectors.

In January, JAL signed a cooperation agreement with the Japanese city of Yabu to test UAV flights to transport medical supplies.

The latest partnership also marks Matternet’s expansion into Asian operations. The drone maker has been developing on-demand, autonomous drone logistics systems for transporting medical items across healthcare networks.

Andreas Raptopoulos, chief executive of Matternet said: “We are very excited to expand our operations to Asia and partner with JAL to show the incredible impact of drone delivery to Japan’s cities, starting with the Tokyo metropolitan area.

“Matternet’s drone delivery platform enables extremely fast and predictable transport of urgent items and stands to revolutionise how healthcare and e-commerce are delivered in cities and megacities around the world,” Raptopoulos added.

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