SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Tuesday (Nov 1) announced it has awarded the master contract for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) services - more commonly known as drones - to three companies, which would allow other public sector agencies to tap on the technology.
This follows the tender for the provision of drone services to public agencies issued by MOT in April 2016.
Under the master contract, Aetos Security Management and Avetics Global will provide both non-tethered and tethered drone services, while CWT Aerospace Services will provide non-tethered drone services, the ministry said.
According to MOT, a non-tethered UAS is a free-flying drone without any cable attached. Tethered drones, on the other hand, have cables - or tethers - attached to them. "In addition to restraining the UAS to prevent any flyaway risk, the tether can be used to supply power and to send/receive data from the UA," a spokesperson said.
It added that the master contract will help facilitate public agencies to procure drone services from these commercial vendors, thus achieving economies of scale. This comes as more public agencies conduct, or plan to carry out, trials on the use of drones in their operations, MOT said.
In February, MOT had said more than 25 uses of drones are being tested out by public sector agencies. These include the National Environment Agency, which is looking to combat dengue with drones that can monitor infected areas and deposit larvicide on hard-to-reach places, as well as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, that is looking at the use of drones in marine accidents.
For example, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) found that trials conducted at two construction work sites to monitor work progress showed that the use of drones to take aerial photographs of work sites had enhanced its efficiency and boosted productivity.
According to MOT, taking such photos tend to be challenging as they have to be taken manually from high-rise buildings situated near the work sites but there are times where there are no such vantage points available.
As such, LTA will expand its ongoing trials to use drones at 10 Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) work sites - Caldecott, Brighthill, Upper Thomson, Mount Pleasant, Orchard, Marina Bay, Marina South, Gardens by the Bay, Great World City and Havelock - for up to a year.
LTA added that drones may potentially be used to monitor construction activities, such as excavation and onsite traffic flow during casting works, and site inspections at inaccessible locations.
The Manpower Ministry, too, has used drones to complement its field operations in the area of workplace safety and health (WSH). The drones are used during inspections in high-risk places such as construction sites and inaccessible work places, MOT said.
They will also be used for incident investigation, including first-response scenarios to facilitate management of the incident scene for more effective decision-making and follow-up action, it added.
The ministry said it has appointed the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to administer the master contract, which lasts for two years, from Nov 1, 2016, to Oct 31, 2018.