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Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore supports use of drones for trial maritime delivery

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) recently announced that it is pleased to support the pilot trial of deliveries from shore to vessels anchored off the coast with an unmanned aerial system (UAS) in the second half of 2018.  The experimental project to deliver spare parts, documents, water test kits and 3D printed consumables via UAS to vessels at Singapore’s anchorage. The delivery of goods from the Singapore coast to ships anchored at bay is commonly known as ‘shore-to-ship’.

As announced, the project is a collaboration between Wilhelmsen Ship Service and Airbus. This trial is a culmination of over a year of planning and collaboration between the two companies, with support from the MPA.   “We are pleased to support Wilhelmsen and Airbus in their pilot trial as one of the new initiatives under the MPA Living Lab. 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,” said Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA.

Skyways is an experimental project aimed at developing a safe and commercially viable aerial unmanned delivery system for use in dense urban cities in its first trial phase. The UAS is an innovative system-of-systems that includes aviation standard UAVs, ground control stations, air navigation systems, and operational and maintenance procedures. The project is being led by a team in Singapore, where plans are progressing towards the launch of a first trial system at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in July.

The initial two-week shore-to-ship pilot trial will begin in the third quarter of 2018, delivering parcels to vessels anchored off the coast of Singapore – one of the world’s busiest ports. Command and delivery centres will be set up at the pier to facilitate the deliveries, with an initial delivery range of up to 3km from the shoreline.

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

Unmanned autonomous drone deliveries enable a reduction in manpower and increased productivity compared to launch boat deliveries. With a quicker response rate and turnaround time of up to 6 times, it has the potential to lower shore-to-ship delivery costs by up to 90%. 

 As reported last year, the MPA set up the Living Lab to provide a technology partnership platform with sufficient scale and real operating conditions in the Port of Singapore, for technology providers and industry partners to plug into for the development and pilot of innovative solutions for the maritime sector.

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

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