Photo: MPA

Singapore launches 1st maritime drone estate

 The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) officially launched Singapore’s first Maritime Drone Estate (MDE) on 20 April 2021, in conjunction with the 15th Singapore Maritime Week.

Located near Marina South Pier with close proximity to the anchorages, the MDE provides a conducive space to test bed and develop drone technologies for maritime applications such as shore-to-ship deliveries and remote ship inspections.

At the launch event, Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport, loaded a 3D-printed part into a drone carriage and witnessed the drone deliver its package from the MDE to a vessel at the nearby anchorage.

Singapore
The drone carrying the 3D-printed part to a vessel at a nearby anchorage. Courtesy of MPA Singapore

“Technology has played a pivotal role in helping the maritime sector remain resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. The launch of the Maritime Drone Estate marks an important milestone in advancing Singapore’s journey towards the use of emerging technologies in the maritime sector,” Chee said.

“As we embark on this exciting future, we look forward to supporting our industry partners and growing more start-ups to build a thriving maritime innovation ecosystem.”

As part of the launch event, eleven industry players showcased their drone technologies, engineering systems, additive manufacturing, and communication services, that can provide innovative drone solutions for the maritime sector.

Drone technologies have the potential to transform traditional maritime operations such as shore-ship deliveries and remote inspections of ships and container cranes. Innovative applications of drone technologies can bring benefits such as increased productivity, reduced need for manpower and lower costs.

The MDE supports the development of drone applications in the maritime context, through the provision of a sandbox for the test-bedding of technologies and operations. This sandbox is part of the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map to invest in new port capabilities through harnessing emerging technologies, to build a thriving maritime innovation ecosystem and strengthen Singapore’s position as an international maritime centre.

Nine companies have conducted trials at the drone estate. These included shore-to-ship use-cases by companies such as Wilhelmsen and Airbus, Foodpanda and ST Engineering, and F-drones. CWT Aerospace conducted trials using drones for surveillance while Avetics Global trialled beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drones for surveillance and remote ship inspection.

In other innovative applications, Airbus and M1 with the support of Infocomm Media Development Authority are conducting 5G network and technology trials to enable safe and robust maritime drone operations, while Nova Systems Asia tested the use of an unmanned aircraft traffic management system to enable large-scale drone operations.

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