Airbus has begun shore-to-ship trials in Singapore as part of its Skyways parcel delivery drone.
It marks the first time drone technology has been deployed in real port conditions to deliver a variety of small, time-critical maritime essentials to working vessels at anchorage.
The maiden shore-to-ship delivery flight was made to the Swire Pacific Offshore’s Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessel, 1.5 km from the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina South Pier, carrying 1.5kg of 3D printed consumables.
It was successful in landing safely on the ship deck and depositing its cargo to the shipmaster.
The Skyways UAV then swiftly returned to its base, with the entire flight taking less than 10 minutes.
The trials are being undertaken in conjunction with partner Wilhelmsen Ships Services.
During the trials, Airbus’ Skyways drone will lift off from the pier with a payload capability of up to 4kg and navigate autonomously along pre-determined ‘aerial corridors’ to vessels as far as 3 km from the coast.
Airbus’ Skyways lead, Leo Jeoh, commented: “We are thrilled to launch the first trial of its kind in the maritime world. Today’s accomplishment is a culmination of months of intense preparation by our dedicated team, and the strong collaboration with our partner, as we pursue a new terrain in the maritime industry.”
He added: “We are also happy to be taking a step forward for Airbus’ urban air mobility endeavour, as we continue to explore and seek better understanding of what it takes to fly safe and reliable autonomous flying vehicles safely.”