Japan has moved to relax restrictions on drone flights. Owners are now allowed to operate drones beyond their line of sight in populated areas if they meet certain requirements.
The revised civil aeronautics law came into effect on Monday. It allows drones to carry out so-called level four flights, the least restricted category in Japan.
Level three only allowed drones to fly beyond the operator's line of sight in unpopulated areas. The change is expected to help people who are unable to go shopping. It could also help ease the shortage of drivers in the logistics field.
Manufacturers have been developing safer drones that qualify for level four flights. The president of Tokyo-based drone maker, ACSL, says the law's revision marks the first step toward a massive expansion of drone use.
Washiya Satoshi said "In order to continue to fly at higher risk levels, as a manufacturer, we need to ensure safety just like that for aircraft. It's also important to develop functions that improve convenience."
Drones intended for level four flights must pass safety checks and the operators will have to take practical and academic tests. No tests have been conducted yet and the government expects that it will be the end of March at the earliest before level four flights begin.