F-drones has completed the first commercial Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) drone delivery in the city-state's history, delivering 2 kg of vitamins over 2.7 km in seven minutes, to a ship managed by Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS).
The company is the first to have received an authorization permit to operate drones beyond the visual range of drone pilots, mandatory for commercial drone delivery services in most parts of the world. It is currently limited to deliveries to ships anchored south of the marina area. Despite the restrictions, this can be considered an important milestone, as there are only a handful companies globally permitted to carry out such services.
F-drones' goal is to eventually use their equipment to send 100 kg loads over a distance of 100 km to ships and platforms. This would help alleviate the need to transport supplies in marine and offshore applications via small boats and helicopters.
Nicolas And, CEO, F-drones, elaborates, "These traditional means of transport are expensive, slow, labour and carbon intensive. F-drones' solutions can help save up to 80% of the costs, time and CO2 emissions. Besides being efficient, delivery drones can also reduce unnecessary human contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic."
At the moment, the company relies on technology they can buy off the market, only capable of carrying loads of up to 5 kg over 5 km. F-drones plans to complete the development of its 100kg-100km drone in the second half of 2021. Its latest prototype, which is its third, named Hyperlaunch, would be able to deliver 5 kg loads over 50 km. Hyperlaunch is planned to enter service towards the end of 2020.
Apart from EPS, F-drones is also working with Hafnia. Shanker Pillai, Head of Innovation and Change, Hafnia, commented on some of the benefits of the partnership, "We are excited to work with F-drones to develop drone technology with the aim to conduct remote delivery of small packages and emergency deliveries to vessels. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, drones can potentially help to reduce human contact during deliveries […]."