Airbus and Singpost is partnering up to bring drone deliveries to the National University of Singapore in the country's first drone delivery system.

M. Shazni  |  Singapore
Published 2017-04-25 10:47:52

It’s no secret that Singpost has been investing in potential alternative delivery methods for short haul or last mile letter and parcel deliveries.

One of those ways is via drones.

The last time that trials were conducted by Singpost for such deliveries was when they were testing it in October 2015 for deliveries of letters to Pulau Ubin.

Then, in February 2016, Aircraft manufacturer Airbus teamed up with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to create what is to become the first inkling of the Skyways Experimentation Project.

Airbus Partners Singpost For Skyways

Image Credit: Airbus

Slightly more than a year later, Skyways is finally becoming a reality.

At the inaugural Rotorcraft Asia exhibition in Singapore, Airbus Helicopters announced that they will be working with a logistics partner for real-world trials of the Skyways drones, and it’s with none other than Singpost.

After a year, the research and development is currently in its advanced stages and is ready to be put into practice.

The testbed for the project? The National University of Singapore (NUS), and the initial trial phase will start as soon as early 2018.

So what can staff and students at NUS expect from these drones that will be buzzing around their campus soon?

With Singpost backing up the logistics software and network, Airbus will be introducing systems and structures in the school that allows for drones to land, dock with secure structures, discharge or take on payloads, and then fly off to other destinations.

Image Credits: Airbus

The drones will be of the octocopter variety, and are responsible for transporting small packages of under 25kg within the university.

While autonomous in name, for the purpose of this trial, the drones have pre-programmed flight paths, and will deliver packages to designated landing pads.

Image Credits: Airbus

The drones will look pretty much like any other industrial drone in the market today.

So, if you were looking forward to seeing some of Airbus’ experimental concepts, you’ll be disappointed. Well, at least we can take pride in the fact that Singapore is but one of a few countries where drone delivery trials are conducted in.

Another Step Towards Airbus’ Unmanned Future

This move by Airbus to partner with Singpost to use its drones for actual deliveries is a step towards its Urban Air Mobility movement that also sees unmanned commercial vehicles and aircraft being used in a variety of applications.

The use of regular drones in Skyways is for practical reasons to solidify their proof of concept. In the background though, Airbus is on a mission to redesign the very image of a drone.

Through competitions such as the Cargo Drone Challenge with partner Local Motors, they are also opening up the future of drone designs.

You will undoubtedly be familiar with Airbus’ Vahana concepts, and see it every time flying cars of the future are mentioned. The Pop.up concept car-drone mashup may very well be what we will be traveling in in the future.

Who knows, the aircraft and automotive industry of the future may just be a hybrid of what we know of them today.

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