S’pore’s First Maritime Drone Estate Conducts Drone Delivery Trials

Singapore recently launched its first drone maritime domain near Marina South Pier as part of Singapore Maritime Week after two years of work.

The new space has been declared a “regulatory sandbox” for drone pilots and companies to test and develop drone technology for maritime applications.

To date, nine companies – including shipping company Wilhelmsen and aircraft manufacturer Airbus – have tested the use of drones to deliver goods such as 3D printed shipping parts to ships moored near Singapore’s shores.

Field of maritime drones
Maritime Drone Estate / Image credit: Singapore Maritime and Port Authority

Using drones to move goods from shore to ship will help increase productivity and reduce labor requirements, as well as improve the safety, efficiency and sustainability of the maritime industry. .

Previously, these deliveries were made using small boats which could take almost an hour for a round trip. However, drones can deliver goods in less than fifteen minutes.

With the help of drones, workers will no longer have to climb steep stairs to transport goods from small boats to ship or perform inspections on ships.

In April last year, Singapore’s first drone delivery service delivered food and vitamins to the crews of the ships. This approach has eliminated unnecessary human contact during a pandemic.

The use of Nova Systems, which has developed a traffic system allowing simultaneous drone flights, is an integral part of the development of drone technology. Their software can track up to 500 drones in a simulated environment.

While industry players applaud the use of drone technology for deliveries, they are offering authorities a larger and more permanent space for their drone trials.

Compliance with safety rules relating to the use of drones

Meanwhile, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min noted that potential threats to safety and security could arise from the irresponsible use of drones in the area.

“To ensure that drones are operated safely, the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority (CAAS) is also seeking to strengthen the regulatory framework for unmanned aircraft. This may include compulsory registration of drones, ”he said.

singapore drone laws
Image Credit: Singapore Legal Council

All private and commercial drone operators need permission from CAAS to provide goods and services. The CAAS has developed a set of detailed regulations on the various permits and licenses required to fly drones outdoors in Singapore,

This set of regulatory frameworks – which were last updated in 2020 – are listed in the Unmanned Aircraft (UA) section of the CAAS website.

Registering drones, obtaining various permits and licenses become more and more complex with the increase in size and weight of drones, as well as the size and weight of the objects they carry.

There is also an interactive OneMap portal that describes the drone-free areas of Singapore.

The use of drones for photography, videography and the collection of other forms of data will also have to comply with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), in addition to the CAAS regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Airbus

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Jothi Venkat

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