Airbus has started shore-to-ship trials in Singapore for its Skyways' parcel delivery drone.
Airbus claims this is the first time drone technology has been deployed in real port conditions to deliver small, maritime essentials to working vessels.
The first test flight was from shore-to-ship to the Swire Pacific Offshore’s Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessel about 1.5 km from the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina South Pier. The drone carried about 1.5 kg of 3D-printed consumables. The drone landed on the deck of the ship and deposited its cargo and returned to its base. The total flight time was under 10 minutes.
Airbus is working with Wilhelmsen Ships Services for the drone trials. Wilhelmsen is a developer of maritime logistics and a port services company. The drones can navigate autonomously along pre-determined corridors to vessels as far as 3 km from the coast.
The goal is to make it easier for ships to receive spare parts, medical supplies and even cash that would otherwise require them to make an extra trip.
The project also paves the way for the possible expansion of the existing ship agency services’ portfolio, speeding up deliveries by up to six times, lowering costs up to 90%, reducing the carbon footprint and reducing risks of accidents associated with launch-boat deliveries.
The Skyways' maritime project piggybacks on the drone testing that Airbus is doing with land-based drone deliveries on the campus of the National University of Singapore that was launched last year.