Five projects to give drone estate lift-off

one-north in Buona Vista has been designated Singapore's first drone estate.
one-north in Buona Vista has been designated Singapore's first drone estate.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

Testing the use of drones for parcel deliveries, security checks and the inspection of buildings may soon take off at Singapore's first drone estate at one-north in Buona Vista.

Plans to designate the 200ha business park as an estate for drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, were first announced by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2018 on Monday.

In an update yesterday, the Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and JTC Corporation said they had selected five projects for a start.

European planemaker Airbus will work on project Skyways, which is an economically viable aerial unmanned parcel delivery system for use in dense urban environments.

The project is already at an advanced stage of development, noted MOT.

Singtel will be looking at testing delivery drones and will work with its partners to explore and trial different technologies to enable the use of delivery drones and drone stations.

Meanwhile, Nanyang Technological University's Air Traffic Management Research Institute plans to conduct trials on how to manage multiple drone operations in low-altitude airspace.

ST Aerospace will be testing drones that can improve the efficiency of work and take over potentially dangerous jobs. These include being the first on site in an emergency to provide early situational awareness.

The final project is by JTC and H3 Dynamics, which are collaborating to enhance the quality and productivity of building inspections.

Under the drone estate initiative, approved operators and research users can carry out their trials and operations at one-north without compromising safety and security, the Government said.

Mr Loh Ngai Seng, the Transport Ministry's permanent secretary and chairman of the national inter-agency Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Committee, said: "There is much potential for UAS operations to transform mobility and logistics in urban cities, so we want to encourage the development of beneficial uses of UAS in Singapore, while maintaining safety and security."

Separately, Airbus yesterday launched the Singapore-headquartered Airbus Aerial Asia which will focus, among other things, on deploying drones to gather information to provide relief and recovery in disaster-prone regions, as well as in areas such as agriculture and the monitoring of critical infrastructure.

Airbus Aerial Asia programme head Jana Rosenmann said Singapore is well-placed as a regional hub and is a great centre for innovation and potential partnerships.

Karamjit Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2018, with the headline 'Five projects to give drone estate lift-off'. Print Edition | Subscribe