Rakuten, AirMap in Japanese UTM platform JV

Japanese internet services business Rakuten and drone management platform AirMap, have formed a joint venture, Rakuten AirMap to provide Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) solutions to drone operators and airspace managers in Japan.

Through the joint venture, the two companies will leverage their knowledge and experience to bring airspace management solutions to the Japanese market and support the development of the commercial drone industry in Japan.

Rakuten AirMap’s UTM platform will provide situational awareness for airspace managers (such as airports and municipal governments) and allow drone operators to fly safely and stay informed during their flight.

Through the platform, airspace managers can view drone flight notices in real time within their jurisdiction, automate authorization for drone flights and communicate directly with drone operators via SMS or phone. The platform also allows drone operators to understand the rules in their flight area, create flight plans, and share them with nearby airports and authorities. By connecting drone operators and airspace managers, the Rakuten AirMap platform opens low-altitude airspace for intelligent drone flight.

The partnership follows Rakuten’s participation in AirMap’s recent Series B investment round in February 2017.

Rakuten entered the commercial drone field with the launch of the Sora Raku Rakuten drone delivery service in April 2016. Through the Sora Raku service and its collaboration with domestic partners on several ground-breaking test flights, the company said it has developed a deep understanding of the commercial drone market and regulatory environment in Japan.

AirMap claims to be the global leader in airspace management for drones, used by the vast majority of drones world-wide, delivering solutions for situational awareness, flight planning, geofencing, drone cybersecurity, and more. Millions of drones rely on the AirMap platform to access and share the data they need to fly safely in low-altitude airspace, thanks to integrations with hundreds of leading drone manufacturers and developers.

AirMap believes it has has also emerged as a leader in worldwide efforts to build technologies for Unmanned Traffic Management, the technological framework that will facilitate data exchange and air traffic control for drones. Today, more than 125 airports and other airspace stakeholders use AirMap’s airspace management dashboard to open surrounding airspace to drones, view past and current drone flights, accept digital flight notices, and communicate with drone operators.

“Drone technologies have the potential to revolutionize industries, and the growing number of drone-based commercial services is a testament to this,” said Takashi Toraishi, president of Rakuten. and responsible for the Sora Raku Rakuten Drone service. “We are very happy to be partnering with AirMap, the leader in airspace management services, as we make our first step into UTM services in Japan and work to create a safe and viable future for the drone ecosystem in the country.”

“We’re tremendously excited to partner with Rakuten to bring Unmanned Traffic Management capabilities to Japan,” said Ben Marcus, chief executive of AirMap. “Rakuten AirMap’s UTM solutions will connect airspace managers with drones and their operators – setting the stage for Japan’s commercial drone ecosystem to thrive.”

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