Five projects to kick off unmanned aircraft system trials at Singapore's first drone estate

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. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - Testing the use of drones for parcel deliveries, security checks and the inspection of buildings are among the possible applications that will soon take off at Singapore's first drone estate at one-north in Buona Vista.

Plans to designate the 200ha business park as a drone estate were announced by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2018 on Monday (Feb 5).

In an update on Wednesday (Feb 7), the Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) 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 also 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 now done by humans.

For example, drones could be used to assist security teams to perform perimeter patrols or respond to an emergency call by being the first on site to provide early situational awareness, or help a surveyor to perform building facade inspections.

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."

The use of unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes is a growing focus for Airbus, which yesterday launched Airbus Aerial Asia, with Singapore as the headquarters.

The team will focus, among other things, on deploying drones to gather information to provide relief and recovery in disaster prone regions with dedicated disaster management support.

Another area is to study the use of UAS in various areas including agriculture, critical infrastructure monitoring like power lines and railroad, as well as oil and gas mining.

Airbus Aerial Asia programme head Jana Rosenmann, said: "We have chosen Singapore as the headquarters for our Asia-Pacific operations because it is a well-established regional hub with excellent connectivity to key countries such as Australia, India, Japan and China...

"It is also a great centre for innovation and potential partnerships, enjoying strong support from the local government for start-ups as well as the development of smart technologies."

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