Singapore-based drone service, F-drones, has completed their first commercial Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone delivery on 19th April. The drone delivered 2KG of vitamins over 2.7 km in a seven-minute flight, which took place off Marina South Pier, to shipping giant Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) under a one-year deal.
F-drones is the first company to receive authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) for the commercial drone deliveries. However, for now, this is only limited to drone deliveries to ships anchored south of the marina area.
Each drone can take up to 5KG worth of supplies and travel up to 5KM offshore each way. The trips take less than 15 minutes on average, offering a faster, and more environmentally forgiving way of transferring supplies in busy ports. Comparatively, it can take more than two hours for boats to make trips of a similar distance, including going through the logistical processes, and that doesn’t even factor choppy seas.
“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,” according to Nicolas Ang, CEO of F-drones in their statement.
Boats can also carry up to two tonnes of cargo, but around 15 per cent to 20 per cent of deliveries in ports around the world are for payloads under 100KG, making drone delivery options more appealing.
While deliveries over sea to ships seem to be taking off, the same can’t really be said with drone deliveries over land as there are more obstacles.
“People in cities may not like drones flying over their heads because of the noise, for example, but that’s not an issue when flying over water,” continues Ang.
F-drones’ capabilities are also limited when it comes to the weight of a package and how far it can go right now, but they plan to complete the development of its 100KG-100KM drone in the second half of 2021. Its latest prototype, Hyperlaunch, would be able to deliver 5KG loads over 50KM to ships.
F-drones will be starting commercial operations using Hyperlaunch towards the end of 2020 after more tests and improvements.