Drones to make shore-to-ship deliveries

27 June 2018

Singapore is piloting a system where drones make deliveries of items such as spare parts and documents between ports and ships moored offshore.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said Wilhelmsen Ship Service and Airbus would collaborate in the pilot drone scheme, which will take place in the third quarter of 2018. 

Wilhelmsen Ship Service and Airbus said the experimental project will deliver spare parts, documents, water test kits and 3D printed consumables via Airbus’s Skyways drones to vessels at Singapore’s anchorage.

Andrew Tan, chief executive of MPA, said: “MPA will provide a suitable test bed in the Port of Singapore for both companies to test their systems at sea and enable us to develop the regulatory framework for drone deliveries.

“The use of such innovative technology could help improve productivity and free up manpower and resources that could be deployed for other value-added jobs.” 

Skyways is an experimental project aimed at developing an aerial unmanned delivery system for use in dense urban cities.

The first phase of the plan will be trialled at the National University of Singapore in July. The second phase will cover ship deliveries –commonly known as “shore-to-ship”.

Command and delivery centres will be set up at the pier to enable deliveries, which will have an initial delivery range of up to 3km from the shoreline.

A second delivery station at an open space in Marina South will extend delivery coverage to more anchored vessels.

Skyways lead Leo Jeoh said: “This collaboration with Wilhelmsen, the first of its kind in the region, gives us a unique test bed where we can trial, refine and shape the future of shore-to-ship drone technologies.” 

Singapore’s MPA set up a “Living Lab” last year to provide a test bed to pilot and commercialise innovative urban solutions in the Port of Singapore.

The use of robotics and autonomous systems including drones is one of the focus areas of the Living Lab, which also covers data analytics and intelligent systems, smart and innovative structures, and safety and security.

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