Commercial trials for maritime drone deliveries in Singapore to be scaled up

The agreement represents the next step in the full-scale commercialisation of maritime ship-to-shore delivery services in Singapore. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Mobility firm Skyports was one of the companies that signed the MOU to scale up commercial trials of maritime drones. PHOTO: SKYPORTS

SINGAPORE - More deliveries of supplies to ships in Singapore's waters will be carried out by drones soon, building on a trial that has involved nine companies so far.

Mobility firm Skyports, ship management firm Thome Group and shipping company Wilhelmsen signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Tuesday (April 5) to scale up commercial trials of maritime drones in Singapore's port waters.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said the agreement represents the next critical step in the full-scale commercialisation of maritime ship-to-shore delivery services in Singapore.

Last April, an area near Marina South Pier was designated as a space for maritime drone fliers to test their wares.

At least three companies are now carrying out paid unmanned drones deliveries for small items such as cash, 3D-printed shipping parts and fuel samples from Marina South to ships out at sea.

On the impact of the new agreement, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said on Tuesday : "These trials will provide insights for commercial players and regulatory agencies to formulate operational parameters such as service standards, turnaround times, and maintenance regimes for maritime drones."

Mr Chee said he is confident that there will be regular use of maritime drones in the near future.

He said the use of these drones to deliver supplies to vessels in Singapore's anchorages will be cheaper, faster and better for the environment.

Fuel consumption by supply boats or crew transfer vessels emit carbon dioxide
and other greenhouse gases.

He was speaking at the MarineTech Conference at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which brought industry players together to discuss maritime technologies as part of the Singapore Maritime Week 2022.

Mr Chee announced two MOUs signed by the MPA in relation to maritime technology.

First, MPA and Jurong Port will renew their research and development collaboration for another five years until April 4, 2027. This includes a $28 million earmarked for projects in four key areas: automation and mechanisation; sustainability and green fuels; digitalisation; and safety and security.

The projects funded in the extended agreement will help Jurong Port strengthen its core business while expanding into new areas such as green marine fuels, said Mr Chee.

Second, MPA, the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and seven industry players have signed an agreement to collaborate on advancing the country's maritime cyber-security capabilities.

This will see an industry-led round table created, with the first meeting to be held later this year to look into initiatives to strengthen cyber-security defence and promote information sharing, among others.

Mr Chee also said on Tuesday that MPA will launch a Maritime Singapore Additive Manufacturing Landscape Report co-developed with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster and SSA.

This will provide a road map for companies to experiment with new practices in additive manufacturing, which is also known as 3D printing.

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