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Japan wants to set international drone standards

  • February 26, 2017
  • , Nikkei Asian Review
  • English Press

TOKYO — Japan is set to take the initiative in proposing international standards for drones. The hope is that its proposed standards can win approval around fiscal 2025 — and help Japanese companies take market share.


Drones sometimes fall and can cause accidents when they do. The Japanese government thinks an international standard for the technology that controls drones can help to alleviate this danger.

 In Japan, the flying of drones is strictly limited by the aviation law; the government fears that the things could cause serious harm or property damage were they to fall in dense residential neighborhoods.
Anticipating that even more drones will take to the air elsewhere in the world in the years ahead, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will start working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, or AIST, to develop technologies for improved safety.

The work could begin by the end of fiscal 2017.


METI will work with JAXA to develop a control system that can pinpoint drones’ locations and prevent collisions. The ministry will partner with AIST to develop technology that could help drones fly in a stable manner. The technology would make use of altitude sensors and GPS guidance.

The ministry hopes these projects lead to improved drone safety and practicality. In addition, it wants to apply by fiscal 2020 for approval by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It expects the approval process to take until around fiscal 2025.


Meanwhile, Japan is to work with foreign companies in areas such as automatic flight technology and flight data analysis. It hopes to incorporate the results of this work in its proposed international standards.


Since most commercial drones are produced by Chinese companies, Japan will try to get the international community to urge China to participate in the setting of international standards.

According to a survey by Yano Research Institute, the global drone market is expected to swell 80% to $20.5 billion by 2020 from where it was in 2015.

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