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Lift Off for Terra Drone

Terra Drone 1

Drones on display at press conference

By Nobuaki Masaki

SNA (Tokyo) — “There is a profound shift underway – a tilt – in economic power from the northern hemisphere to the fast-developing markets and economies of the South,” says acclaimed business author Ram Charan. Terra Motors Co. Ltd., an electric vehicle company based in Japan, is a firm that has promptly addressed this tilt; 95% of the company’s sales are from South Asian and Southeast Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It has recently expanded its shares in the electric vehicle market in these countries, and predicts that it will make 30 billion yen (US$270 million) in this market period.

Terra Motors is now venturing into the drone industry.

On March 16, 2016, Terra Motors announced the launch of Terra Drone. Toru Tokushige, CEO of both companies, claims to see great potential in the drone industry. He said in a press conference after the announcement of his new company, “The people in Silicon Valley are seeing drones as the next big appliance.” He asserts that drones will cause a similar impact to personal computers and the internet.

Tokushige plans to make profits by offering drone services: “Today, in the dawn of the drone age, hardware is at the forefront, but as it happened with computers, I think services will become very big in the future. No company in Japan or the world has a definite presence in this sector, and we want to aim for that.”

He hopes to start his venture by carrying out 3D land surveys over construction sites in Japan, also helping to address the shortage of labor in the construction industry. He claims that by using drones, the work time and costs of land surveys can be reduced to one-tenth and one-fifth respectively.

The drone technology that is on the table is also noteworthy. According to Terra Drone, “we offer technology that limits errors to 5 cm.” Traditional methods of using drones in land surveys, they say, can lead to errors of more than 20 cm.

The inspection of old infrastructure is another service that Tokushige is considering. He hopes that Terra Drone can expand its services into Asia in the long run.

The Japanese government enacted a new law on March 17 that bans drones from flying over important facilities, such as the Prime Minister’s Office and the Imperial Palace. Although the essential purpose of this law is to improve anti-terrorism measures before the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, which will be held in Mie Prefecture in May this year, it is also a sign that the government foresees a wider use of drones in Japanese society.

Japanese electronics companies are struggling amid rising competition from their non-Japanese Asian counterparts. This is evident from Hon Hai’s ongoing takeover negotiations with Sharp. It remains to be seen whether or not Terra Motors can pioneer its way through these bleak times and become a beacon of hope for innovative Japanese firms.

Nobuaki Masaki is a contributing writer to the Shingetsu News Agency.