Yamato Explores Drug Delivery by Drone

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Major transportation firm Yamato Holdings is signing cooperation agreements with remote communities to test the concept of making deliveries of prescription drugs to elderly residents by drone.

“Regarding the receipt of prescription drugs,” a company statement explains, “many customers currently have ample opportunity to go directly to dispensing pharmacies and other outlets, but as the population ages, it is expected that demands for delivery will increase, especially in mountainous areas and rural areas.”

To address this expected need, Yamato has signed agreements with two local governments–Wake town (population 14,000) in Okayama Prefecture and Naka town (population 7,500) in Tokushima Prefecture.

Yamato will work with the local authorities to collect information, gather needed permissions, and conduct practical tests with an eye toward creating a system whereby elderly people in remote areas can receive their medicines without the need for traveling to a pharmacy, which in some cases may be quite distant.

Also in mind is that such services may be needed in the wake of natural disasters, which sometimes cut off rural residents from the outside for a period of time when train lines or roads are temporarily severed.

The practical tests along the Yoshii River basin in Wake town are expected in late November, while the tests in Naka town are expected sometime in December.

Last year, Yamato announced that it was collaborating with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to develop a 400 kilogram payload-class cargo pod for an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aerial system.

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SkyDrive Experiments over Osaka Bay

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — SkyDrive conducted on Friday practical experiments over Osaka Bay aimed at providing data for eVTOL (flying car) development.

In the demonstration experiments, a SkyLift drone weighted down by luggage repeatedly lifted off to an altitude of about twenty meters and then flew about fifty meters offshore. The purpose was to collect data related to the impact of sea breezes and the rate of battery depletion.

The experiments were well covered by the local media, and perhaps the real objective of the experiments were heighten public awareness of the emerging eVTOL industry and to invite a higher degree of social acceptance.

Indeed, about two hundred local people gathered to watch the experiments, and they were handed questionnaires to gather their opinions.

SkyDrive’s efforts are also being promoted in connection with the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, which is shaping up to become a major showcase for eVTOL technology in Japan.

SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa told the media, “Since many people from overseas will visit the Expo, we would like to proceed with development so that people can experience the possible changes in their future lives and in their means of transportation.”

In addition to SkyDrive, four of its partners–Obayashi Corporation, Kansai Electric Power Company, Kintetsu Group, and Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance–also participated in the experiments.

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JAL Flying Car Survey in Osaka

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Japan Airlines (JAL), quickly following up on its announcement this week that it is forming an eVTOL (flying car) partnership with Avolon and Vertical Aerospace, has revealed that it will be conducting an eVTOL survey in Osaka together with its longer-established partner, Volocopter.

The “Demonstration Test toward the Realization of eVTOL” is part of JAL’s preparations for the 2025 World Expo, where the company is planning to conduct “scenic flights to view the area around Yumeshima” for various passengers.

Next month, JAL will conduct test helicopter flights over Yumeshima, the planned site of the Expo, to “investigate the constraints on the flight environment and ground facilities.”

This will be followed up next February by collaborating with Volocopter to conduct Osaka resident surveys. These will involve giving some residents an opportunity to experience eVTOL “virtual flights” in an effort to determine the prospects for social acceptance.

Both JAL and Volocopter are participants in the local government’s Osaka Roundtable on a Moving Revolution Society in the Sky.

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JAL Ties Up with Avolon on Flying Cars

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Japan Airlines (JAL) has made another strategic move in the eVTOL (flying car) industry by tying up with Avolon, a Dublin-based global aircraft leasing company.

The alliance aims to identify potential local partners and customers, as well as to examine infrastructure requirements, for the purpose of introducing one of the world’s first eVTOL ride sharing businesses in Japan by 2025, in time for the 2025 World Expo in Osaka.

Tomohiro Nishihata, managing executive officer of JAL, commented that this alliance “represents an important step towards the social implementation of air taxi at Osaka Kansai Expo in 2025. Our partnership with Avolon, lays out the pathway towards achieving air mobility revolution in Japan.”

Domhnal Slattery, CEO of Avolon, added, “We continue to identify partners who share the same vision to revolutionize air travel through zero-emissions eVTOL aircraft and shape the future of travel. This latest long-term partnership with JAL aligns us with one of Japan’s leading airlines on their journey to sustainability and to decarbonizing air transport.”

Additionally, through this partnership JAL will have a right to purchase or lease up to fifty Vertical Aerospace VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft from Avolon, with the option to purchase or lease up to fifty additional units.

Nishihata explains, “The introduction of VA-X4 will also contribute to reduce our environmental impact and we fundamentally believe that sustainability will be the engine for future growth across our business and region. We look forward to collaborating closely with Avolon and Vertical on the roadmap to certification for the VA-X4 with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.”

UK-based Vertical Aerospace is the same eVTOL maker that the Marubeni Corporation teamed with less than a month ago with a very similar objective. In Marubeni’s case, it made a conditional pre-order of up to two hundred VA-X4, the same aircraft connected with the new JAL-Avolon deal.

Until this latest announcement, JAL was understood to be working mainly with Germany’s Volocopter on developing eVTOL services for Japan. In February 2020, the Japan Airlines Innovation Fund invested in Volocopter, and last September a “cooperation agreement to promote the development of the urban air mobility industry” was unveiled.

It has not been clarified what, if anything, JAL’s new partnership with Avolon and Vertical Aerospace portends for its existing links with Volocopter.

It is clear, however, that Volocopter keenly retains its Japan ambitions, having just joined the Osaka Roundtable on a Moving Revolution in the Sky.

Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter commented, “We are honored to be seated at the Osaka Roundtable and take flight at an important milestone of the Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai. Japan’s and Osaka’s commitment to urban air mobility commercialization and its open approach allows us to be involved in pioneering them into the future of mobility.”

The same announcement from Volocopter notes that JAL recently reserved both its VoloCity eVTOL and the VoloDrone for future use.

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Next Meats Upgrades Plant-Based Short-Rib

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Next Yakiniku Short-Rib 2.0, the latest plant-based short-rib product by Tokyo foodtech startup Next Meats, has just the market.

The original Next Yakiniku successfully entered the alternative meat market and drew media attention in Japan since its release last year. After local barbecue chains such as Yakiniku Like started serving the plant-based beef cuts, Next Yakiniku became available nationwide as well as overseas, including in places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.

The latest product, Short-Rib 2.0, has improved upon the original Short-Rib 1.1. It provides a chewier texture and more closely resembles real beef. In addition, its protein content is 5% higher. The improved yakiniku sauce tastes identical to traditional Japanese-style barbecue.

The Next Yakiniku Short Rib 2.0 is purchasable on Next Meats’s online store and gradually it will be supplied to local retailers and restaurants, before also being exported to overseas markets.

Next Meats announced in August that it is building a first-of-its-kind, eco-friendly production facility called the Next Factory in Niigata Prefecture aiming to be a “one-stop hub dedicated to alternative protein products.”

Next Meats has set out a vision of replacing all animal meats in people’s diets by 2050.

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Bartini Flying Car Gains Japan Distributor

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Bartini, an overseas developer of an eVTOL (flying car) model, has reached an agreement by which Tokyo-based AirMobility will become its exclusive distributor in the Japan market.

Bartini CEO Ilya Khanykov commented, “We at Bartini are very pleased to conclude a distributor agreement with AirMobility in Japan, one of our important markets. We know that Japan values ​​the environment, community, safety, high quality innovation, and aesthetics, and we believe that the flying car we have developed will definitely meet that need.”

Bartini’s corporate headquarters are in Delaware, but its main R&D center is in the suburbs of Moscow. It boasts that it is “based on traditional former Soviet aviation technology.”

Bartini’s eVTOL models aim for high energy efficiency, redundancy, and space-saving utilization. They are being equipped with hybrid engines using batteries and hydrogen fuel.

Bartini expects that its flying cars will be able to achieve a cruising range of up to about four times that of most battery-powered eVTOL, with a top cruising speed around 300 kilometers per hour.

Cabin comfort is another key focus of the Bartini designs.

AirMobility was established in Tokyo in 2019 with the aim of developing eVTOL-related sales and infrastructure, building and providing related services, and the introduction of eVTOLs models into the Japanese market that have been developed overseas.

In January, AirMobility established a cooperation agreement with Terra Drone related to eVTOL services, though few details have been released.

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Okada Manila Aims for Japan Casino Market

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — The leaders of the major Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippines have reaffirmed that they are seeking investment opportunities in their original home market of Japan.

Jason Ader, chairman and chief executive officer of 26 Capital Acquisition Corporation, confirmed that the company plans to pursue casino investment opportunities in Japan.

The background to the announcement is rather complex.

The story begins with Kazuo Okada, a Japanese businessman, who founded in 1969 what is now called Universal Entertainment Corporation, a major producer of pachinko and pachislot machines, slot machines, arcade games, and other gaming products.

Okada, now a billionaire, in 2002 became a co-founder with Steve Wynn of the major casino firm Wynn Resorts.

In 2008, Okada separately founded Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment in the Philippines and began the process of constructing of the Okada Manila casino resort, today valued at US$2.6 billion.

However, Okada himself lost control of his companies in 2017 after he was accused of embezzling money from his own firm, and his ex-wife and children voted him out of executive office.

This week, it was announced that Universal Entertainment, including Tiger Resort and its Okada Manila resort, would be merged with Ader’s 26 Capital Acquisition Corporation, and in the process will gain listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York.

The new entity—once the merger is formalized next year—will be about 88% owned by Universal Entertainment, which remains a Japanese company.

During the pre-2017 Kazuo Okada era, it had always been his ambition that Universal Entertainment would enter the Japan casino business, once it was legalized.

After Okada was dethroned, the new company leaders took an ambiguous stance, perhaps in tacit acknowledgement that their ongoing legal battles with Kazuo Okada and the resulting taint of scandal made it virtually impossible that Japanese government regulators would accept them as an Integrated Resort (IR) operator.

The latest merger may be part of an attempt to finally turn the page and move on to a new chapter as a US-listed company, thus making an eventual entry to the Japan IR market a more plausible prospect.

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Cat Robot Servers at Skylark Restaurants

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Skylark Holdings, best known for its Gusto family restaurant chain, has begun rolling cat-themed robot servers called BellaBots at various outlets to deliver food and drinks to waiting customers.

Early surveys find that about 80% of customers feel positive about the robots on the restaurant floor, especially as one of the key aims is to reduce human contact during the Covid pandemic.

Additionally, Skylark hopes that the BellaBots will improve service, reduce the workload of staff, and leave customers with a memorable experience, bringing them back for more.

The BellaBots–designed by Pudu Robotics of China–both to deliver food to the tables, as well as to return used dishes and glasses when the meal is completed.

The firm is also committed to moving toward other next generation solutions such as cashless payments.

The rollout to all 274 Shabuyo shabu-shabu restaurants is expected to be completed by next April. The robot’s appearance at the Gusto chain will come in more gradual stages, but should reach about 1,300 outlets by the end of next year.

Skylark operates about 3,000 restaurants across Japan.

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Computing Air Mobility Traffic Systems

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Sumitomo Corporation is working with other partners to develop a complex air traffic control system for eVTOL (flying cars) and drones as Japan and the world anticipates the arrival of the air mobility revolution.

In its latest announcement, the firm relates that its QX Project (Quantum Transformation Project) has begun a demonstration of quantum computing technology that is about ten times faster than conventional computers, and is capable of managing about 70% more eVTOLs in real time flight.

“For the safety and security of air traffic in the air mobility era,” a company statement explains, “it is necessary to determine the optimum routes for operation in consideration of the ever-changing weather, radio wave, and other air mobility conditions. These needs will increase exponentially. Finding answers in real time might become difficult utilizing traditional computers.”

The project is also turning its attention to the creation of an air traffic system that can prioritize eVTOLs and drones related to special needs, such as emergency services.

Sumitomo Corporation revealed its strong interest in the eVTOL industry with an announcement in April 2019 that it was forming an alliance with the Texas-based eVTOL firm Bell Textron.

Last April, Sumitomo followed up by revealing that it had taken a stake in Pennsylvania-based OneSky Systems, a firm developing an eVTOL air traffic management system.

The QX Project was established around March of this year, and in June an industry-academia collaboration was announced that brings together Sumitomo, OneSky, and Tohoku University. It was revealed at that time that the project was aiming to develop an eVTOL flight route management system based on quantum computing.

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Notable Japan Barrier-Free Tech Startups

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — While many forms of human-assistive technologies are being developed through university research programs and nonprofits, there are an increasing number of startup businesses breaking into the barrier-free world as well.

In 2006, the government passed the Act for Promoting Easy Mobility and Accessibility for the Aged and Disabled (Barrier-Free Act). Since that time, standardized planning for accessible environments at airports, train stations, and shopping centers has incorporated many features to assist disabled guests.

It has also given scope for the establishment of a number of startups focused on barrier-free technologies.

Some notable barrier-free tech startups in Japan are Triple W, Sakura Tech, Axion Research, Xenoma, WHILL, Digital Attendant, Yukai Engineering, and Mirairo.

Triple W, founded by Atsushi Nakanishi in 2015, developed a wearable device for urinary incontinence. DFree is designed for seniors and those who suffer from loss of bladder control. Using a non-invasive ultrasound sensor, it continuously monitors the wearer’s bladder and notifies them via smartphone or tablet when it is almost full. For online purchases, DFree will come bundled with ultrasound gel and an adhesive sheet to attach the device to the wearer. Triple W continues to work on the development of connected wearable health devices.

Sakura Tech, founded in 2008 by Fuminori Sakai, develops imaging sensors and high performance microwave and millimeter wave components. One of the applications of their technology involves a radar vital sign sensor that allows people to monitor themselves or others at home. The device can detect up to four people at a time within a ten meter radius without using a camera for wellness and fitness health monitoring.

Axion Research, established in 2016, centers itself around big data for healthcare with an emphasis on disease control. Their product, AXiR Engine, is a wearable device and analytical software platform that allows the user to check their immune activation status and fatigue as well as manage their physical condition. The aim is to push individuals to have a better understanding of their health and seek help before experiencing debilitating symptoms. AXiR Engine is still under development to provide dynamic features to detect sudden changes in individuals’ health.

Xenoma was founded in November 2015 as a spin-off from the University of Tokyo by Ichiro Amimori, Masao Nakajima, and Osamu Sawanobori. The company develops smart apparel ‘e-skin’ to provide data tracking and analysis with sensors built into the clothing. The “e-skin Sleep & Lounge” is made for monitoring the wellbeing and health of elderly people specifically. They are a set of pajamas and loungewear that can analyze the wearer’s sleep condition and automatically adjust the room environment accordingly. The pajamas also enable the everyday monitoring of the wearer’s activity levels and can detect falls.

WHILL, founded in 2011 by Satoshi Sugie, Junpei Naito, and Muneaki Fukuoka, aims to transform today’s antiquated power wheelchair and scooter experiences into a new kind of empowering device: an intelligent personal electric vehicle. WHILL offers three different models depending on what the individual wants from their mobility chair. All models are designed with state-of-the-art technology, and can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app.

Digital Attendant, founded in 2014, develops Artificial Intelligence systems for those with visual disabilities. Their product DynaGlass is a wearable device that can provide users with information about the environment and people in front of them by simply wearing a special wearable device that can identify scenes, text, and people. At this stage, it has only a limited number of functions, but they plan to incorporate facial recognition, navigation, and button detection in the future.

Yukai Engineering, established in 2007, focuses on robotics as communication tools that will replace smartphones as the most popular form of user interface in the future. They have developed the Bocco emo, a communication robot with sensors that can monitor temperature, motion, and home activity. Users can set up their phones to receive notifications from the sensors the Bocco emo connects to, keeping them updated on what’s happening in their home. The company says the temperature and humidity sensor can be used to prevent heatstroke among the elderly. It is currently used with home security company Secom’s elderly monitoring service, which provides companionship through conversation and checking in on customers’ mental and physical well-being.

Mirairo, established in 2010, aims to refocus “barriers” into “strengths and values” through products and services developed based on universal design to be accessible, usable, and convenient for all people regardless of nationality, age, gender or ability. One of their ventures, Bmaps, is a mobile app that uses crowdsourcing to help people who have accessibility needs find appropriate facilities while they are outside. The criteria for each establishment is based on five levels for assessing comfort, and nineteen criteria for barrier-free info on the facilities, such as wheelchair-lending service, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and nursing rooms.

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High Output Batteries for Flying Cars

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Tokyo-based Enax has developed a lithium-ion battery specially designed for eVTOL (flying cars).

The proportion of silicon in these batteries used for the negative electrode has been increased to about 80%, which is more than 2.5 times more than that of conventional lithium-ion batteries.

In terms of performance, this allows for the higher output needed during takeoff and landing, and it also increases flight times.

Enax plans to offer its eVTOL batteries commercially from next year, and hopes to quickly achieve brisk sales.

Most eVTOL under development, as the name suggests, are expected to run entirely on battery power, though some–such as those being designed by Honda–will have hybrid engines, at least at the outset.

Following the release of its specialized eVTOL batteries, Enax plans to produce other batteries designed for use in large drones, electric vehicles, railways, and airplanes.

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Eneos Shifts into Renewable Energy

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Oil wholesaler Eneos Holdings has acquired Tokyo-based Japan Renewable Energy Corporation as a major step towards its green shift.

Eneos “aims to become a leading renewable energy company in Japan,” the firm has explained.

The purchase price for Japan Renewable Energy was about ¥200 billion (US$1.8 billion). It will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eneos when the acquisition is finalized, which may be around January of next year.

Established by Goldman Sachs in 2012, Japan Renewable Energy has built up its renewable energy assets in Japan to about 420MW in operation and another 460MW under construction, mainly in the solar energy, onshore wind power, and biomass fields. It is also eyeing development of offshore wind, such as at the Noshiro city and Happo town zone off Akita Prefecture.

For its part, Eneos has outlined a long-term vision for 2040 which involves investment in next-generation energy supplies and environment-friendly businesses. It aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 as well.

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Safety Parachutes for Industrial Drones

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Tokyo-based Nippon Kayaku is offering what it hopes will be a critical safety solution allowing the widespread use of drones over crowded urban areas–a safety parachute.

To this end, the firm will be conducting a practical demonstration of its Parasafe technology in a couple of weeks in Yabu city, Hyogo Prefecture, which is designated as a national strategic special zone.

Utilizing a vehicle provided by Nagoya-based Prodrone, which will weigh almost 12 kilograms including payload, the drone will simulate an accident and, hopefully, the parachute will automatically deploy and bring the drone to the ground at a much slower speed than would otherwise be the case.

“If the effectiveness of the parachute system is proven by this demonstration experiment, it will create a sense of security in drone operation, promote its widespread use, and promote the utilization of drones in new industries,” the company release explains.

Japanese law is currently highly restrictive about drone flights over urban areas, and this technology aims to ease the concerns of both government regulators and insurers with a means to better ensure public safety.

A briefing session will be held at Yabu City Hall on October 25. The demonstration itself will be held at Tsurugigaoka Park on the 26th, but it may be delayed to the 27th in the event of rain.

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Kishida Renews Commitment to Build Casino Resorts

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — New Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has renewed the Japanese government’s commitment to move forward with the construction of casino resorts.

Answering questions at a plenary session of the House of Representatives, Kishida declared that Integrated Resorts are “a key initiative to make the country a tourism leader in the world” and that they “should greatly contribute to local economies by attracting many visitors.”

While Kishida’s comments represent continuity with the policies of his two predecessors, Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, he had not previously made public his view of the IR initiative.

Under the terms of the July 2018 IR Implementation Act, up to three casino resorts may be licensed in the first round of development. There are currently only three local governments that are expected to apply for such a license—Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki.

All three of these candidate have recently chosen their IR consortium partners and are in the process of compiling materials for their licensing bids. The national government’s window for receiving the applications opened at the beginning of this month and the deadline is April 28 of next year.

The central government is expected to announce its decision on which IRs will receive a license sometime in the summer or autumn of 2022, though the precise date remains undecided.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and other left-leaning opposition parties have prepared legislation to abolish the plan to build casino resorts, should they unexpectedly prevail in general elections.

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SkyHub Drone Delivery Tests

Akihahara News (Tokyo) — Seino Holdings, a transportation firm, and Aeronext, a startup promoting next-generation drones, have begun tests of the SkyHub drone delivery service that is under development.

Having announced their partnership in January, the two firms as well as other partners conducted a series of practical tests in Kamishihoro town in central Hokkaido.

One of these tests focused on an elderly resident of the town, Mrs. Omichi (pictured above), who ordinarily takes a bus to do her shopping, but in this case ordered groceries from a supermarket by tablet and two minutes later had a drone delivery to her door.

In another test conducted with the support of a local tourism company, drinks and wagyu steaks were delivered to a glamping site in a remote field, with the notion that this could become a new service for tourists who come to experience the outdoors.

Seino and Aeronext are planning for SkyHub to become a nationwide smart logistics system that connects conventional transportation networks and drone services so that goods can be delivered anytime, anywhere in Japan. They believe that drones may become particularly important in rural areas such as Hokkaido, and improve the quality of life for elderly residents.

In November, the firms expect to launch full drone delivery services in Kamishihoro town as the first step towards these national ambitions.

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Assembly Questions Wakayama IR Consortium

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — A special committee of the Wakayama Prefectural Assembly questioned local government officials about the Clairvest Group and its consortium which aims to build an Integrated Resort (IR) including a casino at the Marina City location.

Assemblymen complained that the nature of the Clairvest consortium remained opaque with comments such as “I don’t understand what the actual situation is” and “I can’t see the shape of this consortium and why it should be regarded as being credible.”

Hisashi Tajima, the prefectural official in charge of IR policy responded, “Of course, we cannot go until the end with this current situation, and we are making efforts to reveal the shape and form of the consortium in November.”

Assembly members also pointed out that there was yet little evidence that the Clairvest consortium could secure the financing necessary for the IR investment.

Indeed, Clairvest Neem Ventures is creating an impression that it wasn’t fully prepared to win its IR bid in Wakayama. It was, after all, on track to lose the contest until Suncity Group abruptly pulled out of the race in May.

Clairvest didn’t even open a local office in Wakayama until a few weeks ago, well after it’s bid had been selected.

Moreover, it was less than two weeks ago that it was announced that Caesars Entertainment would be joining the consortium as the casino operator. It has yet to be clarified where that leaves
Groupe Partouche, which many observers had assumed would be running the casino at the time Clairvest won its bid.

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the prefectural government cannot yet give clear answers to the assembly precisely because Clairvest Neem Ventures is now scrambling to figure out how it can deliver what it promised. A lot of preparations that should already have been firmly in place are only being addressed at this belated stage, including the shape of the consortium and its financing arrangements.

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JAL Opens Air Mobility Website

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Japan Airlines (JAL) opened an air mobility website on Friday highlighting its plans for both drone delivery as well as air taxi services.

JAL plans to launch its commercial drone delivery service in 2023, which will allow products bought online to be delivered soon after they are ordered, perhaps as little as an hour in many cases.

The launch of air taxi services are targeted for 2025. Last year, JAL formed a partnership with Germany’s Volocopter, a leading drone and eVTOL (flying car) company, with the objective of establishing package delivery and air taxi services in Japan.

In a promotional video, JAL imagines a passenger arriving at Narita Airport taking a Volocopter aircraft to a vertiport in central Tokyo.

Last October, JAL and three partners formed an agreement with Setouchi town, Kagoshima Prefecture, to conduct practical drone and eVTOL tests between the Amami Islands, expected to commence next year.

JAL and its partners–namely Japan Air Commuter, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, and MS & AD InterRisk Research Institute–will use these practical tests to identify various problems and issues that may attend the provision of commercial drone delivery and air taxi services in Japan.

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Tetra Aviation Tests Mk-5 Flying Car

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Tokyo-based Tetra Aviation has been moving forward with flying tests of its Mk-5 eVTOL (flying car) ahead of its plans to market the vehicle to American customers by the end of next year.

The flying tests have been proceeding in California, where the Mk-5 has been certified for its airworthiness.

The Mk-5 is a lightweight single-seat lift-and-cruise-style aircraft running 32 vertical lift rotors distributed across long, thin wings at the front and rear of a small cabin. The frame is made of aluminum, and the bodywork primarily consists of a lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.

It is 8.6 meters wide, 6.2 meters long, and 2.5 meters high, and weighs about 490 kilograms. The aircraft is designed for a top cruising speed of 160 kilometers per hour and a range of 160 kilometers.

Tetra is already accepting preorders for the Mk-5, which it plans to sell and deliver to individual customers in the United States as either home-built experimental kit aircraft or complete aircraft at a yet-undetermined price by the end of 2022.

Tetra is also planning to participate in the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, and aims to create new lines of mass produced eVTOL in the future for both the US and Japan markets.

Tetra Aviation is a startup established in 2018 with its roots at the University of Tokyo. It is a recipient of investment money from Drone Fund.

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e-Mobility Power Chooses Driivz Software

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — e-Mobility Power, the leading provider of electric vehicle charging in Japan, has migrated and unified its entire network of chargers onto the Driivz smart energy management software platform.

The Driivz platform encompasses operations management, billing, and driver mobile app and web self-service tools.

“This partnership with Driivz will aid in future-proofing our electric vehicle charging business and streamlining charging management while giving our electric vehicle drivers the most seamless experience possible,” said Shoko Yotsuyanagi, president of e-Mobility Power.

e-Mobility Power selected Tel Aviv-based Driivz following a six-month evaluation of various software options.

e-Mobility Power is joint venture led by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) aiming to increase accessibility to electric vehicle charging stations across the nation. It recently revealed that it aims to double its number of quick chargers to about 13,000 by 2025.

In April, the company took over the Nippon Charge Service (NCS) operations and effectively provides one-stop charging for electric cars nationwide.

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Exhibiting the XTurismo Hoverbike

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — A.L.I. Technologies will be exhibiting its XTurismo hoverbike in Tokyo this month as the firm will soon begin accepting product preorders from the public.

The exhibition will take place from October 9-October 20 at the Tsutaya outlet in Daikanyama, Tokyo. The XTurismo Limited Edition will be officially unveiled on October 26, at which point the window will be opened for preorders.

The company states that it will make the first deliveries in early 2022, which would likely make it the first variety of eVTOL on the market.

According to information provided by A.L.I. Technologies, they have been working on the hoverbike project since 2017. The XTurismo Limited Edition is about 3.7 meters long, weighs about 300 kilograms, and has a hybrid engine capable of a 30-40 minute flight time. It can manage a payload of up to about 100 kilograms.

No information is currently available about its flight speed, nor is it entirely clear if it would be legal to operate this vehicle in Japan as the regulatory framework for eVTOL use is undeveloped.

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