KDDI Deploys Drones at 1,000 Locations, Including Lawson Stores; Aims for Implementation in Facility Inspections and Disaster Response

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A KDDI building in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

KDDI Corp. announced Monday that it has formed a capital and business alliance with U.S. drone manufacturer Skydio, Inc., whose drones it aims to deploy at 1,000 locations, including Lawson stores nationwide, within the next few years. The company plans to use the drones in corporate facility inspections and local governments’ disaster responses.

Skydio specializes in developing AI-equipped drones that can fly autonomously. The company’s latest model is equipped with a dark sensor that allows it to fly autonomously even at night, and it can also be operated using cell phone communication networks.

KDDI expects to use Skydio’s drones in combination with its own drone operation technology to inspect bridges and tunnels, monitor construction sites and power plants, and respond to disasters. The company is eyeing Lawson stores, which it jointly manages with Mitsubishi Corp., as drone bases and aims to be able to rush the drones to a site within 10 minutes of a customer’s request.