Airbus has begun shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone.
The trial 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.
The maiden shore-to-ship delivery flight was made to the Swire Pacific Offshore’s Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessel, M/V Pacific Centurion, 1.5 km from the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina South Pier, carrying 1.5 kg of 3D-printed consumables. Landing safely on the ship deck and depositing its cargo to the shipmaster, the Skyways unmanned air vehicle swiftly returned to its base, with the entire flight taking within 10 minutes.
The trials are being undertaken in conjunction with partner Wilhelmsen Ships Services, a maritime logistics and port services company.
During the trials, Airbus’ Skyways drone will lift off from the pier with a payload capability of up to 4 kg, and navigate autonomously along pre-determined ‘aerial corridors’ to vessels as far as 3 km from the coast.
Airbus’ Skyways lead, Leo Jeoh, said: “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.”
“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,” he added.
Proven drone operations
“The now proven, seamless operation of drone deliveries from shore to ship, in one of the world’s busiest ports proves the hard work, investment and faith we, and indeed our partners, placed in the Agency by Air project over the past two years was not misplaced,” said Marius Johansen, Vice President Commercial, Ships Agency at Wilhelmsen Ships Services.
“Delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to master via launch boat, is an established part of our portfolio of husbandry services, which we provide day in and day out, in ports all over the world. 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,” he added.