Automated Drone Checks for Signs of Damage to ‘Landslide Dam’ in Quake-Hit Ishikawa Pref.

Yomiuri Shimbun photos
A drone takes off from a port in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Tuesday.

KANAZAWA — A drone on Tuesday began operations in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, where it will perform daily automatic inspections in search of signs of breaks in what has come to be known as the “landslide dam,” which formed after a landslide plugged up the flow of a nearby river following the Noto Peninsula Earthquake.

This was the first time that a drone — with the ability to take off and land automatically — was used at a disaster site.

The Tokyo-based Japan UAS Industrial Development Association, which provides disaster relief through its fleet of drones, set up a port for the unmanned aircraft on a vacant lot in Wajima.

A drone that had been programmed to take a preset route took off on a course that covered about 2 kilometers over which it recorded footage at four locations at the landslide dam at an upstream location along Suzuya River from an altitude of about 150 meters.

Workers will assist the drone for a few days, after which the aircraft is expected to be fully automated.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A drone is set to land at a port in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Tuesday.