Airbus Helicopters’ Skyways unmanned aerial vehicle has completed its first flight demonstration at the National University of Singapore, an advance that promises advances in urban parcel delivery.
According to Airbus, the drone took off from its dedicated maintenance centre and landed on the roof of a specially designed parcel station where a parcel was loaded via a robotic arm. Once laden with the parcel, the Skyways drone took off and returned to land, demonstrating its automatic unloading capability.
“Today’s flight demonstration paves the way positively to our local trial service launch in the coming months,” said Alain Flourens, Airbus Helicopters’ Executive Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technical Officer. “Safe and reliable urban air delivery is a reality not too distant into the future, and Airbus is certainly excited to be a forerunner in this endeavour.”
This inaugural flight demonstration follows the launch of an experimental project with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) in February 2016 to develop an urban unmanned air system to address the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of the burgeoning air delivery business in cities. The collaboration was extended in April 2017 with Singapore Post (SingPost) becoming the local logistics partner to the project.
“The urban logistics challenge is complex and an ecosystem of parcel lockers and autonomous vehicles will be a key piece to solving this puzzle,” said SingPost Group chief information officer, Alex Tan. “The trial service that is taking off later this year will be an important step forward for SingPost in our efforts to develop solutions for the future logistics needs of Singapore and other cities of the world.”
Airbus Helicopters, as system architect and provider, said it is at an advanced stage of the Skyways project. Tests are underway, and the unmanned air system will be demonstrated at NUS when the trial service starts this year. Campus students and staff will be able to make use of Skyways to have small parcels between 2kg and 4kg delivered to designated parcel stations within the campus.