Drones might now be pressed into service to deliver medicine and for security in Singapore. The Singapore Government is reportedly considering the use of drones not only to deliver life-saving medical supplies to patients in emergency situations but also to respond to security breaches.
According to media reports Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Ministry of Transport called for the development of an unmanned aircraft systems traffic management (UTM) framework in November last year and the Garuda-led Future Flight Consortium submitted its proposal.
Future Flight Consortium is a 13-member group to develop the drone programme in under 2 years and is led by start-up Garuda Robotics to develop an air traffic control system for drones in Singapore. Future Flight Consortium claims that its proposed system will enable beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight operations in Singapore’s urban environment.
This means that a UAV based traffic management system will allow for remotely controlled flights, to operate in air spaces other than direct visual contact by pilots who will be present in central operation bases. This is in contrast to other recreational drones which are permitted in Singapore for travelling only short distances and remain visible to their operators at all times.
Currently such drone tests are limited to a “drone estate” in the city-state’s One North business district. The consortium declared it will generate flight paths for the drones and will develop a private communications network as well as take-off and landing sites.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force which also manages the city-state’s emergency services – and fellow consortium member Garuda Robotics said they were in talks to use drones in the force’s operations related to delivering “critical life-saving supplies”.
Parkway Pantai – which runs four hospitals in Singapore – is also a member of the consortium. It wants to conduct trials for operations like the transfer of blood and other specimens by drone between its hospitals and its central lab.
Other members of the Future Flight Consortium include Singtel, the Security Industry Institute, and several other companies, which intend using the devices to respond to security incidents and fire alarms.
Future Flight Consortium has pledged to hold rigorous safety tests over a two-year period during which members will collaborate to develop the system. Trials will be held in which the drones will be piloted from a centralized Drone Operations Centre for proper “demonstrate of reliability and safety of the system”.
“Our goal is to make it possible for any enterprise who needs to fly drones (beyond the visual sight of the pilots) in Singapore to easily do so in a safe and effective manner,” Future Flight Project Director Ong Jiin Joo told local media.
The Nanyang Technological University’s Air Traffic Management Research Institute, ST Engineering Aerospace, Singtel, JTC and H3 Dynamics, are some of the other interested parties that are examining the use of drones in Singapore.