SINGAPORE: A new maritime drone estate will be launched to provide a conducive environment to test and develop applications for the sector, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min on Thursday (Mar 7).
He said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore will launch the maritime drone estate near Marina South Pier.
The close proximity to an anchorage provides a conducive space for test-bed and development activities, Dr Lam said in his Committee of Supply speech.
It will also serve as a regulatory sandbox for the development of rules and safety standards for maritime drone operations.
He said the industry has already been active in this arena.
Companies such as Wilhelmsen and Airbus are trialling the use of drones to deliver goods from shore to ship, which will increase productivity and reduce manpower needed compared to the current method of deliveries by boat, he said.
The maritime drone estate is the second such zone announced here.
In Feb 2018, one-north was designated as the first drone estate in Singapore, and meant to facilitate the trial of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technologies and commercial uses in a controlled urban environment.
Dr Lam said the ministry will continue to create a supportive environment and explore deeper collaborations with the industry in the area of drones.
While the ministry facilitates more beneficial uses of drones, Dr Lam said it is “mindful” of the potential safety and security threats arising from its errant and irresponsible use as seen in the recent incidents at UK’s Gatwick and US’ Newark airports.
Drones flying near London’s Gatwick airport had grounded flights and caused mayhem among thousands of travellers flying during the Christmas period last year.
Meanwhile, flights into the Newark Liberty International Airport – the 11th busiest US airport – were briefly suspended after two drones were seen flying over the nearby Teterboro Airport.
Dr Lam said he had informed the House in January that Singapore has measures in place to deal with such threats, and the Transport Ministry works closely with its Defence and Home Affairs counterparts on such efforts.
That said, to ensure drones are operated safely, the CAAS is looking at strengthening the unmanned aircraft regulatory framework, which may include the mandatory registration of drones, he said.
The regulator had said last April it was reviewing regulations on unmanned aircraft and areas being looked at include operating guidelines, pilot competency and requirements for aircraft weighing more than 25kg.