The demonstration in Singapore was significant, as the Airbus drone delivery project – called Skyways – has entered into an agreement with SingPost to trial small parcel delivery via drones to “designated stations” on the University campus. ” Incoming packages are first loaded automatically onto the drone via a robotic arm at designated parcel stations,” says Airbus. “Drones launch and fly autonomously, delivering the package to delivery stations on the campus, where it is then stored in lockers for campus dwellers to retrieve it.”
Airbus has worked closely with the Singapore regulatory authority. To avoid any conflict with other aircraft, the drones will fly along aerial corridors and flights will be continuously monitored from ground stations. Leo Jeoh comments in the Airbus report:
“We will have five or six drones flying in the initial trial phase this year and we expect it to run several months to be able to collect relevant data and insights,” explains design office head at Airbus Helicopters and Skyways project lead Leo Jeoh.
“Tech development is far from being the only hurdle to overcome to rollout full-fledged drone delivery in cities,” states Jeoh.
“We see Skyways as an important stepping stone in paving the way for air mobility in urban settings. It’s an awesome opportunity for Airbus to run a first live autonomous and electric urban air mobility exploration. We are essentially opening up Pandora’s box to determine what it will take for unmanned vehicles to fly safely in cities. All regulatory issues must be properly addressed before we will see either drones or larger passenger electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) such as CityAirbus flying above our heads.”
“I am convinced that Airbus will be pivotal in the shift from ground to air transportation in urban spaces,” says Jeoh. “Through our strong relationship with CAAS, the NUS and SingPost, we will be able to run a meaningful trial that allows us to explore and develop regulations, technologies, and operational requirements to safely operate unmanned vehicles in urban environments while gaining valuable insight from campus dwellers on how they feel about the tech flying around.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.