Intent Exchange, Inc., a developer of unmanned aerial vehicle (hereinafter referred to as “drone”) traffic management systems (UTM*1) using automated negotiation AI, announces that it has raised funds through stock acquisition rights (a stock acquisition rights scheme called J-KISS) with DRONE FUND, Innovation Platform for The University of Tokyo, NEC Corporation and their funds as the subscribers.
Traffic management by certified UTM provider to be implemented around 2025
Currently, the use of drones is expanding in such fields as aerial photography, pesticide spraying, surveying, and inspections, and by the end of July 2022, approximately 290,000 drones had been registered with the government (*2). Furthermore, with the enforcement of the revised Civil Aeronautics Law, “BVLOS flights in manned areas (Level 4)” will become possible from December 5, 2022, and further real-world applications, such as logistics, are expected.
UTMs are being developed and introduced internationally to solve the problem of drones colliding with other drones and aircraft. UTM enables drone operators to plan the flight of other drones, monitor real-time location information, and adjust plans. In Japan, a policy (*2) has been established to allow high-risk flights if drone operators use UTM providers approved by the Civil Aviation Bureau, with a realization date set for around 2025.
This international adoption of UTM is in the process of shifting from a centralized national drone management architecture to one in which multiple private UTM providers are interconnected in a decentralized manner. This decentralized architecture was born in the U.S. as a result of the desire of the government to limit large-scale system investment and the desire of private operators to leave room for competition to improve service quality. Remote ID, which was introduced in Japan in 2022, is based on this ASTM standard and is expected to become the de facto standard for UTM.
An important part of this decentralized architecture is the ability to help operators coordinate with other operators. Currently, when routes overlap among operators, operators must coordinate their routes and timing analogously by phone or e-mail, but this coordination can be done automatically by digital means. This is made possible by Intent Exchange’s automated negotiation AI.
Utilizing automated negotiation AI researched by NEC and AIST, new business born from carve-out, also driven by Japan’s compliance with international standards
Intent Exchange is implementing Automated Negotiation AI in UTM as a first step to achieve a coordination DX for mobility and supply chain. Automated negotiation AI is a technology based on machine learning and game theory. Our CEO, Mr. Nakadai, after many years of experience in distributed systems and machine learning research and development at NEC, led the research and development of this automatic negotiation AI at NEC, RIKEN, and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). He then launched the UTM business and founded Intent Exchange at BIRD INITIATIVE, Inc., a start-up studio, and in April 2023, the UTM business was transferred from BIRD INITIATIVE to Intent Exchange.
In addition, Mr. Nakadai is the only board member from the Asian region of the Global UTM Association (GUTMA), an international industry association for UTM, and has been involved in UTM standardization activities in ASTM since its inception, and is familiar with distributed UTM design and business models. In the NEDO*3 ReAMo project*4 in which we participate, we are leading the design of Japanese UTMs to align them with international standards.
Commercializing drone operation support through ground risk assessment services
Along with the reduction of airborne risks through the introduction of UTM, what is required for the expansion of “out-of-sight flights in manned areas (Level 4)” is the appropriate assessment and management of ground risks. Ground risk refers to the risk of collision with people or objects under the drone’s flight path. Internationally, the SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) assessment method is widely known, and the “Operational Risk Assessment Guidelines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Examination of Safety Assurance Measures” published by the Fukushima Robot Test Field is positioned as the Japanese version of this method. However, this risk assessment method is not a simple method.
Intent Exchange is developing a risk assessment tool based on population density data and crash simulations in the ReAMo project. The tool calculates the ground risk of the route itself by calculating the range of the drone’s fall in the event of loss of control along the route, based on wind speed and aircraft speed. It is possible to visualize which airspace has low ground risk and present it to the operator.
Aiming to be a coordination platform that includes operational management of various autonomous mobility vehicles
In addition to the management of autonomous mobility, Intent Exchange will also promote the introduction and commercialization of automatic negotiation technology in the area of supply chain management, aiming to become a platform for various types of coordination. Intent Exchange aims to become a platform for various types of coordination by promoting the introduction and commercialization of automated negotiation technology in the area of supply chain management, in addition to autonomous mobility fleet management.
With the funds raised this time, we will plan business development outside of this air mobility domain and build services in the air mobility domain. First, we will launch a ground risk assessment service in early 2025, followed by the development of a UTM service business to be launched in time for the accreditation of UTM providers and the obligatory use of UTM.
*1 UTM：Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Traffic Management
*2 Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism New institutional arrangements, etc. for the realization of Level 4
*3 NEDO：New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization https://www.nedo.go.jp/
*4 ReAMo：Realization of Advanced Air Mobility Project https://reamo.nedo.go.jp/