Hong Kong-listed firm to open world’s first cargo drone facility in Japan

The US$1b facility upon completion will house a fleet of at least 24 drones capable of delivering about 14 tonnes of cargo on a daily basis.

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ESR Higashi Ogishima distribution centre ESR Higashi Ogishima Distribution Centre Phase 1 (project rendering)

Hong Kong-listed ESR Cayman, a logistics real estate platform, has started construction on a distribution centre in the greater Tokyo area which is expected to be the world’s first cargo drone logistics facility.

Together with UK-based drone developer VRCO, ESR will design and demonstrate the ESR Higashi Ogishima DC–Phase 1, which will cover around 365,000 square metres of floor area and is expected to be a base for the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) airframes touted to move commercial cargo for ESR’s future tenants.

Working with local regulatory authorities, government agencies and the local tech supply chain, the collaboration will demonstrate how a fleet of automated drones controlled by a command centre can take a “scalable” approach to volume delivery by air, factoring in weather and changing demand.

This proof-of-concept will be tested at ESR’s Higashi Ogishima DC before it is rolled out to other distribution centres and facilities in Japan and Asia.

“The ability to move high-value, time-sensitive cargo directly from our distribution centre to its destination presents a significant value proposition for ESR’s tenants and operators,” Stuart Gibson, co-founder and co-CEO of ESR.

Also read: Singapore’s Mapletree to embark on $410 million warehouse development in Japan

Daniel Hayes, co-Founder of VRCO said the move is both relevant and timely now that Japan has published a road map embracing the use of drones for transport and mobility.

“The evolution of a distribution centre to facilitate eVTOL cargo movement provides a compelling use case and value proposition to both ESR and its customers. Welcome to Airvolution,” he added.

The nine-storey, double-ramped facility, scheduled for completion in March 2023, will partially generate its own sustainable energy and reduce pressure on the national grid, according to ESR.

Payload Asia learned that the US$1 billion facility upon completion will come equipped with a fleet of at least 24 drones capable of delivering about 14 tonnes of cargo on a daily basis.

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