Think flowers for Mother’s Day is old-fashioned? Think again. On May 14, 2017, a golfer at Camel Golf Resort in Chiba, Japan, successfully delivered a bouquet to his mother via drone.
The delivery was made via Rakuten’s Sora Raku drone delivery service, which allows golfers to order from a long list of items including golf balls, food, hot snacks and drinks (the most popular order, of course, being beer.) The items are then delivered by drone to the players on the links. Players use a dedicated Android app to choose their items. Orders go to staff in the clubhouse who then prepare the delivery and launch the drone with the touch of a button.
Rakuten launched the Sora Raku drone delivery service in May 2016, offering the service to golfers at the resort for around a month. The trial went so well that the Sora Raku team are back on the green, and to celebrate this, they have partnered with Rakuten Ichiba flower merchant You & I to give moms a Mother’s Day surprise they will never forget.
“I was so happy to receive this wonderful gift from my son,” said Ms. Matsui (81) who received a bouquet of seasonal blooms from her son on the 15th hole. “When my son invited me to the golf course, I wasn’t expecting anything like this.”
“This is a fantastic service. Next time I’m on the course, I’ll definitely be ordering a few drinks,” said Mr. Matsui, who mentioned he is a longtime fan of radio-controlled vehicles.
The drone used in the delivery was the Tenku 2, jointly developed by Rakuten and Chiba-based drone developer and manufacturer Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory (ACSL). Based on ACSL’s PF1 airframe, the new version of the Tenku drone features a number of improvements, including a parachute that can deploy in case of an emergency.
Though the service is still limited to Camel Golf Resort, it may not be long before Rakuten’s drone delivery is available at more locations. “We have received a lot of inquiries about the service from all sorts of different industries,” said Hideaki Mukai, head of the Sora Raku business. “We want to expand our offering and give people the chance to experience drone delivery themselves and make drones a part of everyday life.”
For more coverage of Rakuten’s Sora Raku service, see here.