Companies in Singapore interested in drone technologies for maritime applications can now test their innovative ideas at the new Maritime Drone Estate (MDE) at Marina South Pier. With its close proximity to the anchorages, the new facility provides a conducive space to trial drone flights for things such as shore-to-ship deliveries and remote ship inspections.
Launched in April by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, 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.
“Technology has played a pivotal role in helping the maritime sector remain resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. The launch of the MDE marks an important milestone in advancing Singapore’s journey towards the use of emerging technologies in the maritime sector. 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,” said Chee Hong Tat, senior minister of state for foreign affairs and transport, during the MDE launch.
During the MDE launch , a 3D-printed part was loaded into a drone carriage and was delivered from the new facility to a vessel at the nearby anchorage.
Drone technologies have the potential to transform traditional maritime operation, with innovative applications of drone technologies bringing benefits such as increased productivity, reduced need for manpower and lower costs.
When the MDE opened seven weeks ago, 11 industry players showcased their cutting-edge drone technologies, engineering systems, additive manufacturing, and communication services, that can provide innovative drone solutions for the maritime sector. These companies were Airbus, Avetics Global, F-drones, Garuda Robotics, M1, Nova Systems Asia, Skyports, ST Engineering, thyssenkrupp, Wilhelmsen Ships Service, and Volocopter.
To date, 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. Companies interested to conduct trials at the MDE can contact MPA.