Japan’s first guidelines on performance evaluation of UAVs as an effort for permitting the Fukushima Robot Testing Field to make use of guidelines for UAV tests
Under the Roadmap for Aerial Industrial Revolution, showing an approach to achieving flights of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over people beyond visual line of sight, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) hereby announces Guidelines on Performance Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as an outcome of the research and development as part of efforts for achieving the goal “study on evaluation methods of safety and reliability of UAVs,” which is upheld in the roadmap.
Recently, many industries use UAVs for a wide variety of purposes, e.g., spraying agricultural chemicals, aerial photography, surveying and infrastructure inspections. Furthermore, as UAVs allow people to quickly transport goods, without the need for specific landing areas or to shoot video from the air, there are expectations for UAVs as an industrial tool for solving social challenges, e.g., labor shortage and aging society with fewer children, and for creating new added value.
Realizing flights of UAVs over people beyond visual line of sight without a visual observer is indispensable for facilitating the diverse use of UAVs in a wider variety of industrial fields, permitting more and more people to enjoy UAVs’ convenience and making changes in industries, the economy, and society. Concerning challenges to be overcome for achieving these goals, The Public-Private Council for Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Promotion and Regulation compiled the Roadmap for the Aerial Industrial Revolution. This roadmap upholds the goal “study on evaluation methods of safety and reliability of UAVs” as one of its steps.
2. Outline of the Guidelines
As part of the METI Project for Achieving an Energy-Conserving Society in which Robots and Drones Play Important Roles, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (hereinafter referred to as “NEDO”), has been advancing study on and development of methods of evaluating the performance of UAVs for the purpose of allowing UAVs to fly over people beyond visual line of sight without a visual observer. This is in parallel with taking into consideration related overseas trends and taking advantage of test data and other information as results from making use of the Fukushima Robot Testing Field (hereinafter referred to as “RTF”).
NEDO compiled the results of the research and development under the project into Guidelines on Performance Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and METI hereby announces the Guidelines. The Guidelines are Japan’s first comprehensive compilation explaining standards for and approaches to evaluating the performance of UAVs in a uniform manner. They are expected to be utilized in a wide variety of fields as matters that companies should consider in, e.g., setting goals for performance levels in the process of development of the bodies of UAVs, stipulating indices for selecting the bodies thereof and operating UAVs. Moreover, as a material to be discussed, they will contribute to further designing of new systems to expand the use of drones in the future.
3. Fukushima RTF
As part of the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme, the Fukushima RTF was developed as a base in which experts are able to conduct not only tests of drones’ long-distance flights and operation control but also many demonstration tests of onshore, undersea and aerial field robots, and it opened fully in March 2020. The RTF offers well-organized related test facilities, which allow experts to conduct assessment tests and other experiments under the Guidelines, and also well-organized test environments with simulations of the sites where drones are actually used, e.g., test plant facilities and mock bridges.