Airbus’ Skyways drone goes to sea
Airbus has begun shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone, transporting small packages to working vessels at anchorage.
Airbus has begun shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone, transporting small, time-critical maritime essentials to working vessels at anchorage. Skyways is an experimental project aimed at establishing seamless multi-modal transportation networks in smart cities.
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.
The trials are being undertaken in conjunction with partner Wilhelmsen Ships Services, a maritime logistics and port services company. 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.
According to Airbus, the use of unmanned aircraft systems in the maritime industry could potentially speed up deliveries by up to six times, lower delivery costs by up to 90%, reduce carbon footprint and significantly mitigate the risks of accidents associated with launch-boat deliveries.
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.
An upcoming trial phase will involve autonomous delivery of air parcels in an urban environment, at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Skyways performed an initial demonstration flight at NUS in February 2018.
Skways is one of multiple Airbus urban air mobility (UAM) projects, which also include the four passenger, self-piloted CityAirbus eVTOL demonstrator; the single-passenger, self-piloted Vahana eVTOL aircraft by A3; and the Altiscope project by A3 helping to shape future regulations and air traffic control requirements to safely integrate eVTOL aircraft in urban skies.