Airbus’ Skyways Drone Completes First Parcel Delivery in Singapore
Singapore has become a hotbed for drone research, testing, and innovation. A mere two months ago, we reported on an impact study at Nanyang Technological University which crashed over 600 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to better understand the dangers of drone collisions. This month, it was Airbus Helicopters that pushed the envelope when its Skyways drone completed its first successful flight demonstration at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
According to Airbus, the presentation on campus consisted of the Skyways drone departing a maintenance center and landing atop a parcel station where a robotic arm loaded a package onto the drone’s hull before the UAV whirred off and landed safely. The feat follows a project launched in February of 2016 with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) which aimed to establish a cohesive air traffic management system for urban environments such as Singapore itself. This project was extended last April when Singapore Post partnered up to assist in the local logistics.
The Skyways system demonstrated here doesn’t merely consist of a UAV capable of carrying a small payload—Airbus Helicopters focused on the landing, docking with requisite structures, dropping off and picking up packages, and departing. The drone itself, the parcel station, and the robotic arm responsible for loading payloads onto the UAV—all of this exists in the same ecosystem, making Airbus Helicopters’ Skyways project a seemingly fairly streamlined process.
The Skyways drone in action, observed by officials on NUS’ campus.
As this first official flight demonstrates, the Skyways project is currently at a presentable stage, the NUS campus serving as its test site with parcel station, maintenance center, and equipment at arm’s reach. The system will reportedly be presented to the university when the trail service begins later this year which will allow students across the NUS campus to order items weighing between 2 and 4 kilograms to certain parcel stations.
Airbus Helicopters’ Executive Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technical Officer, Alain Flourens, said, “Today’s flight demonstration paves the way positively to our local trial service launch in the coming months. It is the result of a very strong partnership among the stakeholders involved, especially the close guidance and confidence from the CAAS. Safe and reliable urban air delivery is a reality not too distant into the future, and Airbus is certainly excited to be a forerunner in this endeavor.”
Well, we’re certainly eager to see Skyways advance into a standardized campus-wide delivery stage as that’s just another step toward city-wide UAV delivery becoming a reality. Stay tuned as we keep our eyes on this project and any significant developments.