Wilhelmsen and Airbus trial world’s first commercial drone deliveries to vessels at anchorage

Wilhelmsen and Airbus trial world’s first commercial drone deliveries to vessels at anchorage

Launching this week in partnership with Airbus, Wilhelmsen’s shore-to-ship Singapore pilot project, marks the first deployment of drone technology in real-time port conditions, delivering a variety of small, time-critical items to working vessels at anchorage.

Lifting off from Marina South Pier in Singapore with 3D printed consumables from Wilhelmsen’s onshore 3D printing micro-factory, the Airbus Skyways drone navigated autonomously along pre-determined ‘aerial-corridors’ in its 1.5 km flight to Eastern Working Anchorage. The drone landed on the deck of the Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO)’s Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessel, Pacific Centurion and deposited its 1.5 kg cargo without a hitch before returning to its base. The entire delivery, from take-off towards the vessel, to landing back at base, took just ten minutes.

Though small drone delivery trials from tugboat to ship have been conducted before by a number of shipping companies and service providers, shore-to-ship delivery of this range and scope has never been explored, prior to this trial.

Commenting on the successful first delivery flight, Marius Johansen, VP commercial, Wilhelmsen Ships Agency said, “The now proven, seamless operation of drone deliveries from shore-to-ship, in one of the world’s busiest ports, proves the hard work, investment and faith we, and indeed our partners, placed in the Agency by Air drone delivery project over the past two years was not misplaced.”

“Offering a more cost effective, quicker and safer means of delivering, small, time-critical items to vessels, Wilhelmsen sees delivery by drone, rather than launch boat, as part and parcel of their continued evolution of the agency business,” the Scandinavian company stated in a release today suggesting drones could cut delivery costs by up to 90%.

 

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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