If you had any doubt that drones will play an integral part in Singapore’s society, this should put them all to rest. SingPost (Singapore Post), Singapore’s postal service provider, has announced that they have been testing the use of mail delivery drones here in Singapore.
SingPost said today that they are working with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to develop an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that will be able to facilitate urban logistics and even tap onto the e-commerce growth in APAC. Online shopping has grown quickly since it took root here in Asia, and the B2C commerce market in APAC is expected to reach US$175 billion by 2016.
According to SingPost, a last mile mail and packet drone delivery trial, focused on testing the drone’s technology and safety boundary, was successfully completed between Lorong Halus and Pulau Ubin. The test flight took five minutes, and carried a stack of letters and a T-shirt in a packet, flying a total distance of two kilometres. The drone is also equipped with safety features and a prototype app that will ensure the mail reaches its intended recipient.
The drone was built upon the Pixhawk Steadidrone platform, and is being worked on by IDA Labs to be tailored for use in Singapore and to make use of SingPost’s existing infrastructure. This development is part of Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.
“The successful conclusion of this trial shows how SingPost is thinking out of the box and its willingness to expand its traditional mail delivery model in innovative ways,” said Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
She elaborated, “Although it will be a while before it is viable for drone mail delivery to take off in Singapore, taking into consideration commercial and safety factors; this first step by SingPost and IDA demonstrates what Singapore is trying out with our Smart Nation vision — to have the various parts of our ecosystem collaborate, experiment with new ways of doing things, and in the process, literally aim for the sky with new technology.”
Currently, the drones have the capacity to carry a payload of up to half a kilogramme, fly at a height of up to 45 metres, and travel a distance of 2.3 kilometres. They look to be the first step to an airborne unmanned delivery system. This would help streamline delivery processes, and even tackle labour crunch issues in Singapore.
A similar technology is also being tested by other companies, most notably Amazon. They revealed in 2013 that they are testing a delivery-by-drone service called Amazon Prime-Air in America, which promises delivery within 30 minutes of an order placement. The service is due to be released by 2016, pending regulatory actions by the Federal Aviation Administration. Singapore’s drone development is unlikely to hit the same regulatory wall, having been supervised not only by the IDA, but also the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Air Force as well as the Singapore Police Force.
So set your worries of falling letters to rest, and embrace the future for the flying robots and instantaneous shopping deliveries they offer.