Airbus has begun shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone.
This 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 a tug supply vessel over a kilometre from the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina South Pier, carrying 1.5 kilograms of 3D printed consumables.
After landing on the ship deck and depositing its cargo, the Skyways UAS returned to its base with the entire flight taking less than ten minutes.
“We are thrilled to launch the first trial of its kind in the maritime world,” Airbus’ Skyways lead Leo Jeoh said.
“This 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.”
“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.”
“Modern technology such as the unmanned aircraft systems, are just a new tool, albeit a very cool one, with which we can push our industry ever forward and improve how we serve our customers,” Marius Johansen, Vice President Commercial, Ships Agency at Wilhelmsen Ships Services, said.
Further 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 four kilograms, and navigate autonomously along pre-determined ‘aerial corridors’ to vessels as far as three kilometres from the coast.
The use of UAS in offshore resupply could speed up delivery speeds by a factor of six, lower costs by up to 90 per cent, reduce carbon footprints, and significantly mitigate the risk of accidents associated with launch-boat deliveries.
Airbus and Wilhelmsen Ships Services signed an agreement in June 2018 to drive the development of an end-to-end UAS for safe shore-to-ship deliveries. A landing platform and control centre were set up at the Marina South Pier in November 2018 in cooperation with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, which also designated anchorages for vessels participating in the trials.
Skyways is an experimental project aimed at establishing seamless multi-modal transportation networks in smart cities. Through Skyways, Airbus aims to develop an unmanned airborne infrastructure solution and address the sustainability and efficiency of UAS in large urban and maritime environments.