Government agencies can expand use of drones through master contract

Drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems, being deployed for monitoring and inspection purposes during a proof-of-concept trial led by the Ministry of Transport at Caldecott MRT station on Feb 4, 2016. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT
Trial of drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems, by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore for surveillance purposes. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

SINGAPORE - It will now be easier for Government agencies to use drones in their work, such as to conduct aerial surveys of construction sites.

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on Tuesday (Nov 1) that it has awarded a master contract to three drone companies to provide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for public agencies.

The master contract will facilitate the procurement of UAS services, as well as "achieve economies of scale by aggregating the demand from public agencies", the ministry said in a press release.

The three drone providers which clinched the tender are Aetos Security Management, Avetics Global, and CWT Aerospace Services.

The first two firms will offer both tethered and non-tethered drone services, while CWT Aerospace Services will only provide non-tethered services.

A tethered drone has a cable attached to it, to prevent it from flying away and also to supply power and send or receive data. A non-tethered drone, in comparison, flies freely.

The master contract will allow Government agencies to get a drone as quickly as within days. Previously, agencies would have to call their own tenders to source for a vendor, which could take weeks.

The master contract spells out safety and operational requirements the drone companies will have to adhere to.

One of the agencies which will be tapping on the new contract is the Land Transport Authority. It will expand its ongoing trials to deploy drones at 10 Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) work sites for up to a year.

The Transport Ministry said in February that public agencies are testing more than 25 potential uses of drones. The National Environment Agency, for example, is exploring the use of drones to survey roof gutters in problematic dengue areas.

The Ministry of Transport's permanent secretary Pang Kin Keong said: "With the rapid advances in UAS technology, we see potential for more widespread use of UAS by public agencies to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations."

Mr Pang, who is also the chairman of the inter-agency UAS Committee, added: "We hope to facilitate and accelerate their adoption of technology such as this, through initiatives like the master contract."

The tender for the master contract was called in April.

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