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Singapore Govt may start using drones to deliver medicine and for security

Singapore Govt may start using drones to deliver medicine and for security

A recent
report
noted that the Singapore Government is considering the use of
drones to deliver life-saving medical supplies to patients during emergencies
or to respond to security breaches. The move comes under a new system in
development.

A consortium (i.e., Future Flight
Consortium) led by start-up Garuda Robotics has been selected by Singapore’s
civil aviation authority and transport ministry to create an air traffic
control system for drones in Singapore, as skies over the city-state are
increasingly abuzz with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Another report stated that the Garuda-led Future Flight Consortium submitted its
proposal after Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Ministry of
Transport called for the development of an unmanned aircraft systems traffic
management (UTM) framework in November last year.

Future Flight Consortium said its proposed
system will enable beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight operations in
Singapore’s urban environment.

In other words, it will allow for remotely
controlled flights, where pilots can be located in central operation bases and
don’t need to be in eyesight of the drones they’re flying.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force – which
manages the city-state's emergency services – and fellow consortium member
Garuda Robotics said they were in talks to use drones in the force's
operations, in particular, to deliver
"critical life-saving supplies".

A hospital operator in the consortium said
it plans to use drones to transport blood samples and specimens between its
hospitals and central laboratory, while a security firm said it will use the
devices to respond to security incidents and fire alarms.

Its uses could also include
delivering emergency medical supplies and responding to security incidents across
the city-state.

Despite Singapore’s small geographical size
and population size of 5.6 million, it is ultra-modern, well-ordered and
tightly regulated – factors seen to improve the scheme's chance of working.

The drones would be operated remotely by
pilots at an operations centre and be
able to travel relatively long distances across the city-state.

This is in contrast to their recreational
counterparts – whose use is permitted in Singapore – which can travel only
short distances and are at all times visible to their operators.

At the moment, such drone tests are limited
to a “drone estate” in the city-state’s One North business district.

The consortium said it will generate flight
paths for the drones and will develop a
private communications network as well as take-off and landing sites.

The ministry and the CAA recognized the
need for a UTM as the existing regulatory framework isn’t up to scratch when it
comes to accounting for a range of possible applications for drones, such as
package delivery, buildings inspections, and security surveillance.

Ong Jiin
Joo, Garuda’s chief technology officer and Future Flight Consortium’s project
director said that the goal of the programme designers is to make it possible
for any enterprise that needs to fly drones BVLOS in Singapore to easily do so
in a safe and effective manner.  

Future Flight Consortium has decided that
over a two-year period, members will collaborate to develop the system, trial
their technologies, and pilot the drones from a centralized Drone Operations
Center in order to “demonstrate the reliability and safety of the system”; they
have pledged to conduct rigorous safety tests.

Two other consortium members – Skyfront and the Singapore Civil Defence
Authority – are exploring how BVLOS drones might be used to deliver supplies in
emergency “first responder” situations.

Parkway Pantai – which runs four hospitals
in Singapore – is also a member. It wants to trial the transfer of blood and
other specimens by drone between its hospitals and its central lab.

Other members of the Future Flight Consortium
include Singtel, the Security Industry Institute, and several other companies.