Drone services and urban air mobility (UAM) vertiport specialist Skyports has signed an agreement with the operators of Singapore’s Jurong Port – the only facility in the city-state serving as a multi-purpose cargo platform – to oversee development of infrastructure for planned ship-to-shore UAV deliveries.
London-based Skyports said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jurong Port authorities to examine the feasibility and structures that would be required to operate cargo drone deliveries between the harbor and offshore ships. Once that exploratory work has been completed, the company will oversee trials flights, drawing from its experience as an operator of UAV fleets transporting both commercial goods and medical supplies, and its leading role developing vertiports for next generation UAM vehicles like air taxis.
The MoU is related to, but distinct from an agreement concluded in February partnering Skyports with local company ST Engineering and Sumitomo Corporation. Under that nine-month test program, Skyports and ST Engineering are responsible for flying beyond visual line of sight drone deliveries to offshore ships with support from Sumitomo.
Read: Singapore consortium to use drones for shore-to-ship parcel delivery
The new MOU tasks Skyports with planning the infrastructure that will be used in those operations, as well as wider, full-time service of offshore drone deliveries of cargo when the project goes live.
“The MoU between Jurong Port and Skyports represents yet another important milestone towards commercialization of maritime ship-to-shore cargo drone delivery,” said Ng Yi Han, a director with the Port Authority of Singapore.“Drone delivery will bring about faster delivery times and reduced emissions, and we look forward to supporting our partners as the maritime industry continues to leverage technology innovation to strengthen its efficiency and resilience.”
Jurong Port is a provider of best-in-class multi-purpose port services, and acts as Singapore’s main point of maritime entry. It handles bulk, break-bulk, and containerized cargo, and manages tens of thousands of ships that make call each year. In seeking to add offshore cargo drone deliveries to that activity, Jurong will host Skyports trial flights operating amid regular ongoing port operations.
Read related: Singapore partners to tailor drones for offshore wind farm deliveries
As that unfolds, Skyports will lead consultations with relevant public sector organizations, regulators, and private actors to advance the development of regulatory frameworks that will be essential for large scale cargo drone delivery services to be added to the facility’s array of services.
“Drone delivery technology has demonstrated its ability to enhance the maritime industry’s processes, and the development of its supporting infrastructure will be crucial in transforming the future of maritime logistics and shipping,” said Walter Lin, assistant vice president of Jurong Port’s break-bulk and lighters unit. “As one of the world’s busiest anchorages, Jurong Port is constantly looking out for solutions that will benefit the shipping and maritime industry. We believe that drone delivery technology will play an integral role in the evolution of our next-generation port and is thrilled to partner Skyports in a feasibility study for commercial drone deliveries.”