ST Engineering, Sumitomo Corporation and Skyports announced the formation of a consortium to provide Unmanned Aircraft (UA) services for shore-to-ship parcel delivery in Singapore.
Each consortium member will exploit their respective operational and technological capabilities to expand the use of autonomous UA for the deliveries of maritime essentials to vessels at anchorage. During a nine-month pilot program, the consortium will engage key customers for maritime UA deliveries, with the goal of establishing a UA delivery network capable of carrying parcel payloads up to 7kg.
ST Engineering will provide the UA technology using its end-to-end solution – DroNet; Skyports will jointly conduct the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight operations with ST Engineering; while Sumitomo Corporation will provide go-to-market support, including their own fleet of vessels. All three partners in the consortium will undertake business development activities by leveraging their existing maritime network.
As a leading unmanned systems participant in Singapore, ST Engineering has been testing and developing autonomous solutions to enable BVLOS UA operations for shore-to-ship delivery in close collaboration with regulators and industry partners. Through funding support from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’ (CAAS) Call-for-Proposals, the Group recently completed the initial development of an UA system for shore-to-ship parcel delivery based on its in-house DroNet solution. A collaborative effort with Wilhelmsen Ships Service has helped to strengthen the commercialization and operational aspects during solution development.
Compared to the traditional form of delivery by boats, UA operations can significantly slash response time and speed up turnaround for shore-to-ship delivery, in addition to reducing logistics costs. Replacing launch boat delivery with UA also helps to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the maritime industry’s overall efforts to operate sustainably.
“UA Systems have evolved rapidly in recent years to emerge as safe and robust alternatives to traditionally labour- and time-intensive missions,” said Teong Soo Soon, VP & head of UA Systems at ST Engineering. “We are excited to be partnering Sumitomo Corporation and SkyPorts in the pilot launch of unmanned services for shore-to-ship parcel delivery after spending close to two years of R&D efforts to develop the solution. We look forward to being a strong enabler for customers which wish to leverage unmanned technology to inject higher efficiency and sustainability into their operations.”
Ichiro Tatara, GM, Commercial Aviation Department at Sumitomo, said, “UA systems are a potential infrastructure enabling sustainable transportation. We are very excited to launch a pilot programme for shore-to-ship parcel delivery together with ST Engineering and Skyports, and we believe this partnering is a great team and provides sustainable and efficient service to vessels in Singapore.”
Sanjay Suresh, Head of BD & Operations APAC, Skyports, added, “As home to one of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore is the ideal setting in which to demonstrate to customers the potential for UA to transform maritime logistics by moving essential supplies in a more cost-effective and sustainable way. Together with ST Engineering and Sumitomo Corporation, Skyports is excited to play a key role with our expertise in BVLOS UA operations in the continued expansion of our collective capabilities in the maritime sector.”