Wilhelmsen, Airbus bringing drone deliveries to one of world's busiest ports


The following is text of a news release from Wilhelmsen Ships Service:

(SINGAPORE) — Launching at Singapore port’s Marina South Pier in quarter three 2018, Wilhelmsen Ships Service and Airbus will be piloting the delivery of spare parts, documents, water test kits and 3D printed consumables via Airbus’ Skyways unmanned air system (UAS) to vessels at anchorage.

With the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the maritime trade show Posidonia, the Maritime UAS project agreement covers a joint ambition to establish a framework for cooperation between the parties, with the aim of investigating the potential deployment and commercialization of UAS for maritime deliveries use cases.

This is the first time the viability of autonomous drone delivery to vessels has been put to the test in hectic, real-world port conditions. Marius Johansen, vice president, Commercial, Ships Agency at Wilhelmsen Ships Service, is confident that with Airbus now on board, his agency team’s long-term drone delivery aspirations will be fulfilled.

“As an outward-looking company eager to utilize technology to help improve our customers’ experiences, drone delivery is a perfect fit for our agency business," he said. "Part of our standard husbandry services, we organize the delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to master via launch boat day in and day out all over the world. However, delivery by drone is much more cost effective, quicker, and frankly safer for all involved. Costing on average 90 percent less than launch boats, they importantly remove the risks inherently involved with making launch deliveries and also have negligible environmental impact."

With Wilhelmsen Ships Service tasked with setting up the necessary maritime and port operations, gaining the relevant approvals from port authorities and securing maritime customers, Airbus will take care of all the corresponding aviation approvals, and the running and maintenance of the UAS and its control systems.

Culminating over a year of planning and close collaboration between Wilhelmsen Ships Service and Airbus involving the Singapore Maritime Port Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the partnership will first see an initial two-week pilot trial with deliveries to ships in Singapore’s eastern anchorage.

A command center and a delivery center will be set up at the pier to facilitate the deliveries, with an initial delivery range of up to 1.8 miles from the shoreline. A second delivery station will be positioned at an open space in Marina South to extend delivery coverage to more anchorage vessels.

By Professional Mariner Staff