SINGAPORE – Singapore’s first drone estate at one-north in Buona Vista will be the test bed for five projects that have been approved for trials.
Plans to designate the 200ha business park as a drone estate was first 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 gave details on the projects that will kick off the initiative.
The first is an experimental project called Skyways by European plane maker Airbus, which is already at an advanced stage of development.
The project aims to develop a safe and economically viable aerial unmanned parcel delivery system for use in dense urban environment.
With the commencement of the trial phase at the National University of Singapore campus from 2018, Airbus is also keen to extend its urban air delivery service to other areas of Singapore.
The second project is by Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Its Air Traffic Management Research Institute plans to conduct test flights at one-north to validate design concepts, algorithms, technology and systems for the traffic management of multiple drone operations in low-altitude airspace for various applications, in different conditions and requirements.
The third project involves Singtel. The telco, which is working with its partners, intends to explore and trial a host of technologies to enable the use of delivery drones and drone stations for last mile deliveries. The trials will include working closely with the authorities to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.
In the fourth project, aerospace firm ST Aerospace plans to trial and evaluate key enabling technologies for its DroNet system, which is designed for remote (in other words, beyond the visual line of sight) and autonomous deployment of drones in an urban environment.
DroNet aims to improve the efficiency of work and reduce the safety hazards associated with tasks normally performed by humans. For example, it can be used to assist a security team to perform perimeter patrols or respond to an emergency call by being the first on site to provide early situational awareness, help a surveyor to perform building facade inspections at heights with automatic detection, or provide faster movement of items in a large facility to reduce waiting times and ground logistic traffic.
For the fifth project, JTC and H3 Dynamics are collaborating to enhance the quality and productivity of building inspections, by automating the current manual process with an autonomous drone data collection and analytics solution for building facades and vertical surfaces in one-north.
The process of defect identification is made faster and safer by using drones because there is no need for heavy equipment, such as scaffolding and gondolas, to be used for inspections. This also means the associated work-at-height risks are eliminated.
one-north, which is master-planned and developed by JTC, offers an ideal location to test varying urban environment complexities for unmanned operations, the government authorities said.
These comprise various typologies ranging from high-rise to low-rise buildings, as well as public spaces like parks.
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.
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 concentration of UAS trials and activities in one-north will also provide MOT and CAAS with the opportunity to study the technical capabilities and expertise needed to manage high-volume, complex UAS operations in a dense, urban environment.
JTC’s chief executive officer Ng Lang said: “This project is consistent with our current approach to use our business and industrial parks as living labs to catalyse the development of new urban solutions.”