Wilhelmsen Wins Singapore Funding to Test Shore-to-Ship Drone Delivery

tanker aerial
Photo: By angelstructure / Shutterstock

Norway-based maritime services company Wilhelmsen Ships Service has been selected to help develop the future Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) regulatory framework for Singapore and will receive dedicated funding for their shore-to-ship drone delivery project.

Wilhelmsen Ships Service is one of only four companies to have received the funding following a Call-For-Proposal (CFP) by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Singapore’s Ministry of Transport.

The CFP aims to support the development of systems and technologies that will enable innovations within the wide-ranging use of UAS for shore-to-ship delivery.

The maximum funding available for each project is SGD1.5 million, or up to 50% of the total project qualified costs.

The winning proposal from Wilhelmsen Ships Service highlighted how UAS delivery could improve safety, productivity and efficiency. With a quicker response rate and turnaround time compared to traditional launch boat deliveries, Wilhelmsen believes delivery by drone has the potential to lower shore-to-ship delivery costs by up to 90%, as well as removing the safety risks inherent with delivery via launch boat.

shore-to-ship drone delivery
Photo: Wilhelmsen / Airbus

Commenting on the award, Marius Johansen, Vice President Commercial, Ships Agency says, “Only weeks after announcing the Airbus partnership, this award almost feels a bit overwhelming. In itself it will be important for us to validate the use case of parcel delivery with drones, but it will also enable us to develop key technological solutions such as ship localization and precision landing, payload release system, light and reliable private 4G/LTE communications, onshore parcel station and an automated package delivery system”.

At the Posidonia conference held in Greece last June, Wilhelmsen signed a MoU with aeronautics company Airbus to bring shore-to-ship drone delivery to Port of Singapore.

Through that partnership, combined with the CFP award, the two companies are now working on a pilot trial to deliver spare parts, documents, water test kits and 3D printed consumables to vessels at anchorage from Singapore port’s Marina South Pier.

The pilot trial is expected to take place in the third quarter of 2018 and will be the first-time drone technology has been deployed in real port conditions, delivering parcels to vessels at anchorage.

Johansen says, “The award is something more than just financial support. It is another significant recognition of the work we are doing and without doubt, places Wilhelmsen at the very top of the list of innovative players in the maritime industry.”