Singapore-based start-up F-drones reports that it has completed its first commercial BVLOS (Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight) drone delivery in the port city, having become the first company to receive authorisation from the local aviation authority to conduct drone deliveries of this type to ships in Singapore.
Ship manager Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) was the customer for this first paid commercial drone drop-off, which supplied 2 kg of vitamins to a ship at a distance of more than 2.7 km in 7 minutes.
F-drones became one of the inaugural members of the ‘Eastern Pacific Accelerator powered by Techstars’ in November 2019, and is one of nine maritime start-ups within the accelerator to receive assistance from EPS in developing their technologies and bringing them to market.
In Singapore, like in most parts of the world, a BVLOS authorisation or permit is required when operating drones beyond the visual range of drone pilots. For now, the authorisation that has been granted to F-drones is limited to drone deliveries to ships anchored south of the marina area.
The company is currently using an off-the-shelf drone which can only deliver 5kg loads at ranges of approximately 5km, but the ultimate goal is to develop its proprietary drone technology to send 100kg loads over 100km to ships and offshore platforms, providing an alternative to the small boats and helicopters currently employed.
“These traditional means of transport are expensive, slow, labour and carbon intensive. F-drones’ solutions can help save up to 80% of the costs, time and CO2 emissions. Besides being efficient, delivery drones can also reduce unnecessary human contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nicolas Ang, CEO of F-drones.
F-drones plans to complete the development of its 100kg/100km drone in the second half of 2021. Its latest Hyperlaunch prototype, which is its third, is designed to deliver 5kg loads over 50km to ships, and is expected to enter commercial operation towards the end of 2020 after further testing.