Singpost & IDA collaborate to develop drone for mail delivery
Singapore Post signed a joint development with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) for a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, also known as drone). A last mile mail and packet drone delivery trial was successfully completed between Lorong Halus and Pulau Ubin. The drone which was built upon the Pixhawk Steadidrone platform was by IDA Labs to meet the new conceptual delivery platform from SingPost, and tailored for use in a challenging environment like Singapore. This is the first time in the world a postal service has successfully used an UAV for point-to-point recipient-authenticated mail delivery.
SingPost’s exploration of the drone technology is a move to provide enhanced end-to-end solutions to facilitate urban logistics as well as tap on the burgeoning eCommerce growth in Asia Pacific. The B2C eCommerce market in Asia Pacific is expected to reach USD 175 billion by 2016 and SingPost who is equipped to handle postal and non-postal delivery, customs clearance and eCommerce warehousing, is emerging as a market leader in Southeast Asia.
“The successful conclusion of this trial shows how SingPost is thinking out of the box and its willingness to expand its traditional mail delivery model in innovative ways. Although it will be a while before it is viable for drone mail delivery to take off in Singapore, taking into consideration commercial and safety factors; this first step by SingPost and IDA demonstrates what Singapore is trying out with our Smart Nation vision – to have the various parts of our ecosystem collaborate, experiment with new ways of doing things, and in the process, literally aim for the sky with new technology,” said Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
The test flight which took five minutes carried a payload of a letter as well as t-shirt in a packet and flew a total distance of two kilometres. The drone is equipped with enhanced safety features, and is complemented with a prototype app designed with security and verification features that ensures the mail reaches its intended recipient. It has the capacity to carry a payload of up to half a kilogramme, fly at a height of up to 45 metres and travel a distance of 2.3 kilometres. The focus of the flight was to test the drone technology and safety boundaries.
Dr Wolfgang Baier, Group Chief Executive Officer of SingPost said: “SingPost is pioneering eCommerce logistics across Asia Pacific and building ecosystems to facilitate eCommerce for businesses as well as end consumers. We are seeing success in our digital transformation which did not happen overnight. Our success is made possible through collaborations with industry experts and our business partners. Now, we want to make innovation more accessible and bring more tangible benefits to our customers and consumers.”
“There is immense potential in UAV technology for last-mile mail and ecommerce delivery. As SingPost transforms into an eCommerce logistics enabler, we will continue to collaborate with industry leaders and chart new frontiers. Not only do we want to enable or accelerate eCommerce, we hope to contribute towards building Singapore into a Smart Nation, where technology improves the quality of lives. We seek continuous exploration to break new ground, innovate and harness technology to bring end-to-end solutions that matter to our customers,” said Dr Bernard Leong, Head of Digital Services, SingPost.
The multi-agency Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Committee facilitated this trial. Its Chairman, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport Pang Kin Keong said, “The UAS Committee has been encouraging and discussing with public and private sector organisations on innovative uses of UAS, and facilitating such trials. The technology opens up numerous exciting possibilities which could help us enhance operational productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. All this, of course, needs to be carried in a safe manner, both for the public as well as aviation.”
The first SingPost drone trial flight was conducted with permissions and cooperation from Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, Ministry of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Air Force as well as the Singapore Police Force.
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