Japanese leading beverage can maker invents connected sprayer for drone


In order to confront an issue, you have to “monitor” it and then “take action” to solve it. People do this process unconsciously on a daily basis, but the technical hurdles may become higher when you try to do all this remotely or automate tasks with robots.

Many of small drones have been limited their functions to monitoring because their limited payload for pursuing longer flight times with limited battery capacity and securing agility during flight makes it difficult to mount complex moving parts needed for action.

Toyo Seikan Group Holdings (TSE:5901), one of the world’s largest beverage container manufacturers, announced this week that it has developed Sabot for Drone, a remotely-controllable spraying device which can be attached to a drone to spray liquids and chemicals at high pressure. Since the liquid or chemical is filled into the can using the company’s aerosol packaging technology, there is no need to install a pump or other complicated mechanism on the drone.

The product has a variety of applications but the company introduces several use cases such as exterminating a beehive in high places using chemicals, marking on the ground and walls, and anti-corrosion and waterproofing treatment by spraying resin. Since the capacity of the sprayer is limited, it is not suitable for spraying pesticides over a wide area or for fire-fighting work, but it will save a lot of labor and shorten the time required for work that conventionally required blocking traffic and arranging an elevation work vehicle.

The product’s first model supports an SDK (software developer kit) by Chinese drone giant DJI and is fully compatible with DJI Matrice 200 series V2. The Tokyo-headquartered company claims it has chosen DJI because of its standardization and familiarity among many industrial drone choices. They are discussing with major construction companies and power companies the potential use of the device for their maintenance work while preparing for joint development of the contents of the sprayer with major chemical and paint manufacturers.

Established in 1917, Toyo Seikan launched an initiative called the Open up! Project last year in aim to encourage innovation and new developments for the next century. As one of the outcomes from the initiative, the Sabot device is named after “skipping unnecessary work that humans do not need to do” and also an anagram of Tobas (flying) in Japanese.

In September, Toyo Seikan joined the Series A round of Shiok Meats, a Singapore-based foodtech startup creating cell-cultured shrimp meat, which was the first investment in startups. Toyo Seikan claims that they want to work with Shiok Meats to help delivering the cultured shrimp meat and other alternative crustacean foods to dinner tables in Asia, a region facing social issues such as food and protein crises, climate change, and marine pollution.