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10:03 AM, March 15, 2019
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Airbus Skyways drone lifting off Wilhelmsen (image: Airbus Helicopters)

Airbus has begun shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone.

The maiden shore-to-ship delivery flight was made to the Swire Pacific Offshore’s Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessel ‘M/V Pacific Centurion’, 1.5km from the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina South Pier, carrying 1.5kg of 3D printed consumables. Landing safely on the ship deck and depositing its cargo to the shipmaster, the Skyways unmanned air vehicle swiftly returned to its base, with the entire flight taking within ten minutes, the company said in a statement Friday.

The trials are being undertaken in conjunction with partner Wilhelmsen Ships Services. During the trials, Airbus’ Skyways drone will lift off from the pier with a payload capability of up to 4kg, and navigate autonomously along pre-determined ‘aerial corridors’ to vessels as far as 3km from the coast.

Airbus and Wilhelmsen Ships Services signed an agreement in June 2018 to drive the development of an end-to-end unmanned aircraft system for safe shore-to-ship deliveries. A landing platform and control centre were set up at the Marina South Pier in November 2018, through the facilitation of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. The maritime agency also designated anchorages for vessels to anchor off the pier for the trials, while the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore worked with Airbus and Wilhelmsen to ensure safety of the trials.

Skyways is an experimental project aimed at establishing seamless multi-modal transportation networks in smart cities. Through Skyways, Airbus aims to develop an unmanned airborne infrastructure solution and address the sustainability and efficiency of unmanned aircraft in large urban and maritime environments.

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