Singapore's first drone delivery service takes flight

30, Apr. 2020

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SINGAPORE, VNA - Singapore's first drone delivery service has started, with the first parcel containing 2kg of vitamins dropped onto a ship anchored off the island on April 19.

The 2.7km, seven-minute flight took place under a one-year deal inked between shipping giant Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) and local start-up F-drones.

Each drone can take up to 5kg of supplies and travel up to 5km offshore each way.

F-drones is the first company to receive authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) for such deliveries.

Trips take less than 15 minutes on average, offering a greener and faster way of transferring supplies in busy ports.

Diesel-powered launch boats are currently used for such deliveries, of which there can be more than 100 a day in Singapore.

It can take more than two hours for the boats to make trips of a similar distance, including going through the logistical processes. Choppy seas can also cause delays.

While these vessels can carry up to two tonnes of cargo, around 15 percent to 20 percent of deliveries in ports around the world are for payloads of under 100kg. This explains the appeal of drone deliveries, said F-drones.

F-drones plans to build a bigger drone that will eventually be able to carry bulkier items such as drill bits and 40-litre gas tanks over longer distances.

Its final product will be able to carry a load of up to 100kg over 100km, but this model is expected to be ready only by the second half of next year.

A further 18 to 24 months will be needed to complete the certification process required by the CAAS for drones heavier than 25kg.- VNA