Sony Venture Unveils Drone Prototype


Aerosense, Sony Corp.’s joint-venture drone company, Monday unveiled a prototype of the flying machines it will use to serve business customers.

The airplane-shaped drones will take off and land vertically, and are expected to carry objects weighing up to 22 pounds, and fly for more than two hours at a maximum speed of 106 miles an hour.

Aerosense is a joint venture between Sony and Tokyo-based startup ZMP Inc., which specializes in autopilot technology. The venture is part of Sony’s efforts to move beyond its core consumer products into enterprise markets.

Drones have also become a top area of research and development among Internet and technology companies, including Inc. and Google Inc., which are studying using them for package delivery.

Hisashi Taniguchi, chief executive of Aerospace and ZMP, said the company is targeting Y10 billion ($82.6 million) in revenue by 2020.

Aerosense will offer services such as inspecting aged infrastructure and surveying land that is difficult to access. The drones would be piloted automatically based on input from users about which areas they want surveyed.

“By making it automated, drones will be considerably safer because many of accidents today are caused by human errors,” Mr. Taniguchi said at a news conference.