Singapore tests drone delivery of ship supplies

F-drones’ prototype. Credit: F-drones/GAC

A large-scale test of drones to carry supplies to vessels and offshore platforms is being carried out by Singapore start-up F-drones jointly with GAC, a shipping logistics provider.

F-drones’ third prototype can carry items of up to 5 kg over 50 km. After  the tests, the start-up will develop drones able to carry up to 100 kg of supplies to vessels more than 100 km away.

The trial was planned before the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but could prove useful as a means of reducing social contact in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus. The drones could provide a get around to COVID-19 restrictions put in place by certain port authorities and allow vital supplies are able to reach crew onboard. F-drones noted the drones green credentials, which are fully electric and could help reduce carbon emissions when supplying vessels and offshore platforms.

The current prototype is an off-the-shelf multi-rotor drone. F-drones is building its proprietary drone, which is a transition drone with vertical take-off and landing capabilities, but flies like a plane with fixed wings.

“When fully commercialised, drones can be an attractive alternative to launches and helicopters for delivering supplies to vessels, especially for on-demand deliveries,” said Lars Bergström, vice president, Asia Pacific & Indian Subcontinent, GAC Group.

F-drones has received Singapore’s first Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) drone delivery permit and is now scaling up commercial delivery with an off-the-shelf drone.