Currently, drones are widely used in the fields of aerial photography, surveying, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (e.g., agricultural chemical spraying), inspection (e.g., inspecting deterioration of high structures), transportation and logistics, and security surveillance.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism is considering the use of highly versatile drones to obtain a wide range of information and speed up initial response in disaster areas in the event of a natural disaster. According to the “Survey and Analysis of Drone Patent Application Status” in April this year, the number of PCT applications (international applications) for 2016-2020 is ranked first by China, second by the United States, and third by Japan. By technical field, applications are related to airframe structure, flight control, flight support, communications, and drone port systems.
Looking at applications in Japan, an average of about 500 patent applications per year for drone-related inventions were filed between 2016 and 2021. Among them is the invention of a “ball launcher” (Japanese Patent No. 6918384, Patentee: For Nature Co., Ltd.) that launches fire extinguishing balls from a drone at the scene of a fire.
We hope that drone-based firefighting systems will be used effectively to extinguish wildfires, which are increasing worldwide due to the effects of global warming, as well as fires that occur in areas affected by earthquakes and other natural disasters. (Conan)
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism “Technical Study Group on the Utilization of Highly Versatile Drones to Meet Administrative Needs” (Only in Japanese)
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, “Survey and Analysis of Drone Patent Applications (April 2023) (Only in Japanese)(PDF)