Meet Toru Tokushige – CEO & Founder of Terra Drone and Terra Motors
Please tell us something about your professional background.
After getting BA in chemical engineering from Kyushu University, involved in management planning in Sumitomo Marine and Fire Insurance Co. Ltd. Straight as the first career. After working in Sumitomo, earned MBA from the Thunderbird School
of Global Management in 2002. After earning MBA, executed hands-on support of technological ventures as the president of an incubation enterprise in Silicon Valley. In 2010, started Terra Motors Corporation. In 2016, started Terra Drone Corporation.
What are the perspectives on UAS in the next 5 years?
UAS in Japan are expected to grow rapidly in next 5 years. Japanese government are looking forward to utilize UAS in each industries such as i-Construction in the construction use. This policy requires to use UAS in the construction site.
In global terms, almost all the sensing and researching in the vast area will replace by UAS and will become one of the significant factor of IoT to collecting the big data. It’s also necessary with the integrated platform to manage the traffic of UAVs.
What are the biggest challenges to face in the next 5 years?
Technology would be very challenging for UAV to change the world. Innovation is required especially in the battery, sensors and onboard processing unit. Problem for the market and regulation seems to solve along with the technology develops.
Which UAV applications are on the technological point of view mature/efficient/safe enough to substitute the traditional non-UAV methods (agriculture, surveying, etc…)?
Land survey. It is obviously time and cost effective. Also relatively safe to have a flight in the area such as construction site.
Compared to the conventional ground or manned aerial operation, do you see that UAV operation can serve the same quality by saving time and costs?
It is sufficient for the quality, accuracy with less than 5cm has realized by land survey using UAV. Also UAV is cost reductive for most of the case, but it really depends on the place to capture data (manned aerial operation is still effective on the very large area).
How is the UAV market situation in Japan? How many UAV companies are active in the market?
Companies specialized in UAV is approximately 30, including hard ware, software and service provider. Also conventional survey, agriculture and inspection companies are starting to use UAV as the service and it is quite difficult to know the precise number.
What are you market growth expectations in the next years?
Market in civil survey seems to grow constantly. Once there are law changes in the inspection, market will grow exponentially.
What are constraints avoiding higher market growth?
Regulation. Firstly, there is still some unnecessary regulation especially for the inspection that avoids usage of UAV. Secondly, i-Construction (mentioned above) is somehow inefficient due to the excessive commitment by the government.
Drone regulations in Japan are too restrictive, too loose or appropriate?
Appropriate for the hobby use but too restrictive for the commercial use.
Is JCAB pilot qualification requirement sufficient for a safe UAV operation?
It is sufficient but still have some problem. For instance, criteria of qualifications are not clear.