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Japan drone businesses swoop in for a piece of deregulated skies

Legalized 'level 4' flights open up opportunities for last-mile delivery services

Aeronext has launched a drone delivery service in a village in Japan's Yamanashi Prefecture.

TOKYO -- Japanese businesses are moving to take advantage of a deregulation allowing remote-controlled drone flights in residential airspace, seeking to offer last-mile deliveries that bring food, medicine and more to consumers.

The legalization of level 4 flights, in which the pilot operates an unmanned aerial vehicle beyond the visual line of sight, took effect Monday. The government expects such flights to begin in earnest around next spring after a round of licensing.

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