ACSL’s launch into the US Drone Market was big news in 2023, as it meant that Japan’s largest drone manufacturer would soon be introducing their technology into a region that is literally asking for more options. We’re seeing what one of those options look like with today’s pricing and availability of SOTEN, the company’s small UAS. 

Ever since that announcement, ACSL has been showcasing its flagship drone to potential customers to gather feedback on potential improvements that could be part of this debut. The feedback ACSL received impacted the further development of the SOTEN’s swappable camera and robust encryption, but these conversations also revealed something much deeper around the need and desire for this type of product.

“One of the most interesting observations we had in engaging with the market is the genuine enthusiasm customers seem to have for a Japanese product,” said Dr. Christopher Raabe, Global CTO of ACSL. “We anticipated healthy interest but we were actually blown away by how seriously the market viewed our entry and all the optimism that people associate with Made in Japan technology. On a more technical note, we've received a lot of positive feedback around SOTEN's flight dynamics. This is something our company is incredibly proud of, and has been over 10 years in the making.”

That development is connected to the company’s origins, as ACSL stands for Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory, pointing to its roots as a university lab working on flight control software. That meant countless hours went into optimizing their flight controller, all of which can be seen and felt with how the SOTEN performs.

Other upgraded and new features of the SOTEN include:

  • reduced video latency
  • enhanced gimbal and camera controls
  • compliance with FAA remote ID requirements 
  • improved optical/thermal camera (roadmap 2024)
  • smart controller upgrades (roadmap 2024)
  • longer flight time (roadmap 2024)
  • long range communications
  • cellular network connectivity
  • SDK for third-party software development

SOTEN's standard package will include the essentials to get up and running quickly, including the drone, the standard camera (20MP 1” sensor with mechanical shutter), remote controller, a smart battery, and all the required cables. In addition to the standard package, ACSL will also offer several other kits, including an Inspections Kit.


While getting up and running quickly is a top priority for users of all types, doing so in sectors like energy is especially critical. Is that something the Inspection Kit can enable in an even bigger way?

“The Inspection Kit was put together with input from a major Southern California utility that we've worked closely with, who today possess some of the very first SOTENs sold and delivered in the US,” Cynthia Huang, CEO of ACSL, Inc., told Commercial UAV News. “We did testing in the field to determine the ideal amount of batteries to include to enable continuous flight while doing rotational charging from their field vehicles via a multi-charger. The kit is designed to allow for anyone performing an extensive inspection project to have what they need to get a full day of work done. Combined with an IP43 rating, the interchangeable gimbal feature, and extras like spare props, we see this kit as being very convenient to help inspection customers be prepared out in the field.” 

The SOTEN Inspection Kit will include the drone, standard camera, 4 batteries, a hard carrying case, spare propellers, and a triple battery charging system. SOTEN was the first system of its kind to offer a swappable camera system, making it a small but powerful drone that lends itself especially well to the critical infrastructure inspections and disaster relief efforts that are a top priority for energy stakeholders.

Also of note is news that ACSL is announcing their list of authorized dealers to support this entry into the market. Advexure, Blue Skies Drones, DronesMadeEasy, Frontier Precision, General Pacific (GenPac Drones), Gresco UAS, UVT, and Volatus Drones will all provide support that is specific to the SOTEN, ensuring users have the training and service resources they need to be successful.

ACSL identified this support as especially critical, given that the bulk of their company personnel is in Japan. The process to select these partners was approached in a way that has parallels to the development of the new features of the SOTEN itself, with a similar focus on what it means for users to leverage this technology, no matter the specific need or application.

“We have been extremely selective with our channel partners because we are introducing not only a new product to the market, but essentially a new brand,” Huang continued. “Our dealers have been amazing in collaborating with us on product feedback, marketing ideas, and overall customer success strategies. We don't see them as the middle man in a monetary transaction, we see them as valued partners who are in this with us for the long haul, who have been invaluable to the progress and growth of the drone industry, and who deserve a manufacturer's respect and gratitude.” 

Orders of the SOTEN can be placed through authorized retailers as of today, starting at under $10,000 USD.