Airbus is flying the flag for drone delivery and has announced plans to conduct UAV operations at one of the world’s busiest ports.
The European aeronautical company has teamed up with Wilhelmsen Ships Service, a global maritime industry group, to work on the Agency by Air project in order to launch shore-to-ship drone delivery.
Launching at Singapore port’s Marina South Pier in quarter three 2018, Wilhelmsen Ships Service and Airbus will be piloting the delivery of spare parts, documents, water test kits and 3D printed consumables via Airbus’ Skyways UAV to vessels at anchorage.
Culminating over a year of planning and close collaboration between Wilhelmsen Ships Service and Airbus, involving the Singapore Maritime Port Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the partnership will first see an initial two-week pilot trial with deliveries to ships in Singapore’s eastern anchorage.
A command centre and a delivery centre 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 anchorage vessels.
Marius Johansen, VP of commercial ships agency at Wilhelmsen Ships Service, commented: “When we announced last year that we were pursuing drone delivery, we were greeted with a fair amount of scepticism, but our collaboration with Airbus, shows we really do mean business.
“As an outward looking company, eager to utilise technology to help improve our customers’ experiences, drone delivery is a perfect fit for our agency business. Part of our standard husbandry services, we organise the delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to master via launch boat day in and day out all over the world.
“However, delivery by drone is much more cost effective, quicker, and frankly safer for all involved. Costing on average ninety percent less than launch boats, they importantly remove the risks inherently involved with making launch deliveries and also have negligible environmental impact.”
Commenting on their partnership, Airbus’ 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. This also serves as an exciting opportunity to bring together the strong domain expertise of both Airbus and Wilhelmsen, to pioneer the future of UAS in the maritime industry.”