Japan's Rakuten bets big on drones for online shopping
The company Rakuten kicked off 2017 by setting a world record for the longest drone delivery, flying a container of hot soup 12 kilometers to surfers on a beach, CNN reports.
CEO Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani expects drones to revolutionize the delivery sector.
"The capacity in the skies above us is far greater than in the roads beneath our feet," he wrote in a recent blog post.
Rakuten this week teamed up with California-based AirMap to develop technology to manage drone traffic in Japan. They hope to allow drones to operate autonomously at low altitude.
Global rival Amazon is also making an aggressive push into drone deliveries.
Rakuten is tired of being known as Japan's answer to the U.S. online shopping behemoth. With more than 14,000 employees and revenue last year of more than $6.8 billion (781.9 billion yen), it is pushing to become a tech giant on the scale of Google or Alibaba.