NTT East Setting Up Drone Firm

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — NTT East has entered the drone industry with the forthcoming establishment of NTT e-Drone Technology.

This new firm, scheduled to begin operations on February 1, will initially focus on operating drones for agricultural use, helping Japan’s farm sector cope with an increasingly severe labor shortage.

NTT East has two partner companies in establishing NTT e-Drone Technology, which are OPTiM Corporation, a Tokyo-based AI company, and WorldLink & Company, a Kyoto-based firm with previous experience in the drone business. While it is known that NTT East will possess the largest share in the venture, the precise financial split between the three was not revealed.

The grouping has described their overall objective as follows: “Currently, the drone market is expanding rapidly, and it is expected that drones will be utilized in many industrial fields. Under these circumstances, NTT East, OPTiM, and WorldLink will establish this joint venture to bring together the strengths of each company and to promote the social implementation of drones, thus contributing to the creation of sustainable local communities and the revitalization of local economies and industries.”

The inaugural president of the firm will be Hiroshi Tanabe of NTT East, and its headquarters will be in Asaka city, Saitama Prefecture. It’s initial capitalization will be in the neighborhood of US$4.7 million.

The first of its drones will be pesticide spraying drones that it is taking over from the failed firm Enroute Co., which is transferring its business to NTT e-Drone Technology at the end of the month. Most of Enroute’s nearly fifty employees are losing their jobs.

Enroute’s drones, which will become NTT e-Drone Technology’s first fleet of drones, are medium-sized with payloads of four to eight kilograms. They can spray 2.5 hectares of farmland with a single battery charge.

NTT e-Drone Technology has set a target of reaching ¥1 billion (US$9.6 million) in sales by March 2022 and ¥5 billion (US$48 million) annually within five years.

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