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Japan's Yamato successfully test-flies a delivery truck

Logistics company plans to commercialize unmanned delivery flights in 2025

Yamato's unmanned delivery bird prepares for a test flight on Aug. 26 in Fort Worth,Texas.   ¬© Kyodo

TOKYO -- Yamato Holdings, one of Japan's agile delivery companies, successfully tested an unmanned transport aircraft that it has been developing with a U.S. helicopter maker.

Yamato's big drone completed two four-and-a-half-minute flights in Fort Worth, Texas, reaching a speed of about 150 kph. The electric stork ascends vertically, then speeds away after reaching a certain altitude. It also descends and lands vertically.

As Japan's working population grays and its labor pool evaporates, parcel delivery companies have been making due with aging drivers. But they have also been exploring alternatives, like drones and automated vehicles.

Yamato and Texas-based Bell Helicopter have been developing their flying alternative since last October.

The craft used for the test flights is 2.7 meters long and can carry loads of about 30 kg. Yamato is also developing a similar drone capable of carrying heavier loads. It will later decide where to roll out flying deliveries. It expects to commercialize drone deliveries by 2025.

Yamato is not the only player investing in delivery drones. U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon is developing similar contraptions, intent on introducing a service that can deliver an order within 30 minutes of being placed. And JD.com, a Chinese online shopping site operator, has been producing drones since 2015 and already runs drone delivery services in China.

Nikkei staff writer Akane Okutsu contributed to this story.

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