The first ever public drone parcel delivery service in Singapore will begin later this year. BILL READ FRAeS reports on how the new service will operate and its significance.
During the 2018 Singapore Air Show in February, Airbus invited the media to witness the first demonstration of a new parcel-delivery drone service which will begin trial commercial operations later this year. First started in 2016, the new project is the creation of four partners: Airbus – which built the drone, the National University of Singapore (NUS) – where the drone is being tested, the Singapore postal service, Singapore Post – which is the local logistics partner for the trial and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) – which is looking at the safety and operation aspects of the service with a view to its wider adoption. The project also has the support of the Singapore government.
The drone being used for the project is the battery-powered Airbus Skyways octo-copter designed to carry parcels inside its chassis. The rotors are fitted to eight arms which extend on all sides of the drone. The drone has no horizontal rotors but flies in a similar way to a helicopter tilting on its axis to move in different directions.
The drones will be powered by rechargeable batteries which will carry enough charge to enable it to return to the service station after each delivery. The range of the drone will depend on the endurance of its batteries. “For the NUS trials, the maximum range between stations is about 1km,” explains Leo Jeoh, Head of Design at Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia, who is leading the Airbus Skyways project. “However, the system is designed to move distances of up to 3.5km on one leg – thus making a total ‘there and back’ range of 7km. We are still working on developing the battery technology.