Credit: Airbus



Airbusによると、さらなる実験で、最大4kgの荷物を積んだSkywaysを使い、予め設定された航路に沿って、沿岸から3km離れた船舶までの自律輸送を実施しました。このテストの共同実施者は、シンガポール民間航空庁(CAAS) および、国際的な海上輸送企業であるWilhelmsen Ships Serviceです。Airbus Skywaysは配送コストを最大90%低減し、現時点でモーターボートを使った配送に比べて、配送スピードを最大6倍速めます。Airbusによると、海上輸送にドローンを使うことで、扱いにくいモーターボートによる配送に伴うリスク、すなわち高い事故発生率や、多くの労働力を要すること、環境への悪影響を大きく減少させることができます。


シンガポールにおけるSkywaysプロジェクトは数年前にさかのぼります。2016年、シンガポール国立大学(NUS)で、Singapore Postと共に軽量荷物を運ぶために使ったのが最初でした。Airbusによると、当時、ドローン配送は、指定した目的地に荷物を届けることができるものと考えていました。その後、ドローンは航路に沿って、それ以外の目的地までの自律輸送が可能になりました。



Wilhelmsen Ships Serviceは、緊急を要する書類や医療用品、小さな交換部品の配送にドローン活用の可能性を見出している、と述べています。

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Airbus’ shore-to-ship delivery trials, in real port conditions using the aerospace company’s Skyways drone, are proving that drone technology has the potential to revolutionize parcel-delivery services.

The company last year performed the world’s first shore-to-ship parcel delivery using a Skyways drone. It carried a 1.5-kg cargo load of 3-D-printed consumables from Marina South Pier in Singapore to a ship deck 1.5 km offshore.

Further trials have been performed with a 4-kg-payload Skyways drone, which navigated autonomously along predetermined aerial corridors to vessels up to 3 km from the coast, says Airbus. Collaborating on this trial were the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Wilhelmsen Ships Service, an international maritime logistics company. Airbus Skyways is touting up to 90% savings in delivery costs and up to six times higher delivery speeds than what is currently possible with launch boats. The use of drones in the maritime industry can significantly reduce the risks of cumbersome launch-boat deliveries, which have higher accident rates, greater manpower requirements and a larger environmental impact, says Airbus.

Airbus Skyways’ choice of partner country was no surprise, as Singapore has one of the world’s busiest ports and high manpower costs, so unmanned drones can make a significant commercial impact. But performing the delivery trials in Singapore is also strategic, as they are conducted in collaboration with the CAAS. Demonstrating the drone deliveries under the watch of the civil aviation safety regulator opens the possibility of aiming for longer, heavier, and more complex deliveries.

The Skyways project in Singapore goes back several years, when it was first employed on a small scale with Singapore Post at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2016. Back then, the concept for drone delivery was that parcels could be entered into designated stations, before being automatically loaded onto drones, which flew to other stations via aerial corridors, Airbus says.

Airbus also says it is continuing to work with NUS to develop other use cases for autonomous parcel delivery in dense urban environments.

But shore-to-ship parcel delivery demonstrates the ability to overcome further challenges, such as how to ensure there is enough redundancy in the systems for safety in long-distance flying. It also demonstrates a practical application for drone technology in a specific industry.

Wilhelmsen Ships Service says it sees the possibility of using the drones to deliver time-critical documents, medical supplies and small spare parts.