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Rakuten testing drone delivery to disaster-hit Fukushima

Drones have started delivering food such as fried chicken to an area of Japan hit by a tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten used its drones to deliver items from convenience store chain Lawson to Fukushima’s Minamisoma City. The area was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and a nuclear accident that followed as a result.

The government of Japan began lifting some evacuation orders from the surrounding areas last year, but there remains widespread damage.

Since 2013, Lawson has been operating a mobile store whereby it takes a truck stocked with 300 different products to areas that are affected. But it was not able to carry hot food.

Now Rakuten is using its drones to deliver hot food, including fried chicken.

Residents can place orders at Lawson’s mobile outlets. Then an employee will call a larger nearby Lawson store to have the items packed and shipped over by drones.

Rakuten launched its drone delivery service in 2016. The drone that delivered the fried chicken flew 2.7 kilometers. It can carry up to 2 kilograms of goods. Rakuten is trialing the service for six months.

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