Drone Delivery to Ships Takes off in Singapore

drone delivery to ships

Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr) / CC BY-SA 

In a recent press release, start-up F-drones announced the first commercial beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone delivery in Singapore.  This is the first time that authorized drone delivery to ships has taken place in Singapore.

The company recently obtained the first ever authorization in Singapore for flight beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight (BVLOS) in order to perform drone deliveries to ships.  In addition, the company also completed their first paid drone delivery to a vessel: an important milestone for commercialization of the application.

This type of drone delivery adds to the growing concepts of Urban Air Mobility where pollution and congestion are causing civil authorities to look to non-traditional methods for the delivery of goods.

F-drones completed the first commercial BVLOS drone delivery in Singapore on April 19, 2020.  The drone delivered 2 kg of vitamins over 2.7 km in 7 minutes, to a ship managed by Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS). EPS, which is one of the world’s largest privately-owned ship managers, is F-drones’ first paying customer.

“These traditional means of transport are expensive, slow, labour and carbon intensive. F-drones’ solutions can help save up to 80% of the costs, time and CO2 emissions. Besides being efficient, delivery drones can also reduce unnecessary human contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Nicolas Ang, CEO of F-drones.

Gil Ofer, the Head of Open Innovation at Eastern Pacific Shipping, says the program is environmentally important. “EPS has been part of F-drones’ test deliveries since November 2019, when they joined the Eastern Pacific Accelerator powered by Techstars. We believe their solutions will play a significant role in reducing shipping’s overall carbon footprint. The successful BVLOS delivery is a milestone event, and we are extremely proud to be part of their journey.”

Singapore is a country of about 5.6 million people with the 7rd highest GDP in the world.  As it is constructed of a main island with a series of smaller island ports and shipping is no stranger to Singapore.    It is land challenged, with over 25% of it’s current land mass reclaimed from the sea.  Drone delivery to ships is seen as far less expensive and produce far less carbon emissions than the alternatives such as helicopter or launch boat.

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