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Japan's Rakuten buys into drone delivery

By Shawn Price   |   March 30, 2016 at 2:52 AM

TOKYO, March 30 (UPI) -- Japan's Rakuten has joined fellow online retail giants Amazon and Alibaba with drone delivery and hopes to begin testing soon on the golf course.

Rakuten bought a 20 percent stake in Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory, a Japanese company that makes robotics for industrial use. ACSL offers its Mini Surveyor drones and other services for surveying, inspections, monitoring and other jobs.

Starting in May, golfers at a course in Chiba can order drinks, snacks, balls or other items via a smartphone app, and the drone will delivery it from the clubhouse.

Based on how the drones perform on the golf course, Rakuten will then decide how and if the service can be expanded to home delivery like Amazon's proposed Prime Air program, Japan's NHK reported.

Neither company said how they might prevent the drones from being hit by flying golf balls, however.

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