France-based aerospace group Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Wilhelmsen Ships Service for conducting the ‘shore-to-ship’ delivery of goods using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the Singapore port.

As part of the collaboration, Airbus’ Skyways UAS will be used to deliver goods from the Singapore coast to the vessels anchored at the bay.

A two-week shore-to-ship pilot trial is scheduled to be launched by the third quarter of this year at Singapore port’s Marina South Pier, under the MoU.

The partnership will establish command and delivery centres at the pier, with an initial delivery range of up to 3km from the shoreline.

A second delivery station will also be set up at an open space in Marina South to extend the delivery coverage to additional anchored vessels.

Airbus Skyways lead Leo Jeoh said: “This collaboration with Wilhelmsen, the first of its kind in the region, gives us a unique test bed where we can trial, refine and shape the future of shore-to-ship drone technologies.

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“The use of UAS in the maritime industry is expected to expand Wilhelmsen’s portfolio, as well as increase productivity by up to six times.”

“This also serves as an exciting opportunity to bring together the strong domain expertise of both Airbus and Wilhelmsen, to pioneer the future of UAS in the maritime industry.”

The use of UAS in the maritime industry is expected to expand Wilhelmsen’s portfolio, as well as increase productivity by up to six times and lower delivery costs by up to 90%.

It can also minimise carbon footprint and significantly alleviate the risks of accidents associated with launch-boat deliveries.

Wilhelmsen Ships Service Ships Agency Commercial vice-president Marius Johansen said: “When we announced last year that we were pursuing drone delivery, we were greeted with a fair amount of scepticism, but our collaboration with Airbus shows we really do mean business.

“As part of our standard husbandry services, we organise the delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to master via launch boat day in and day out all over the world.”