F-drones has successfully completed its first drone deliveries over Singapore waters on 15 December 2019, in partnership with Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS). Four deliveries were made in total.
They include two deliveries to Crystalgate, a bulk carrier managed by EPS, sending 3kg of ship spares and 2.5kg of Christmas goodies for the crew; and two deliveries returning bunker (fuel) and fresh water samples to shore.
The deliveries are representative of the use cases which F-drones hopes to disrupt. Drones have the ability to help send spare parts and equipment to vessels cheaper and faster. They can also reduce manpower needs and lower carbon emissions, compared to the traditional way of using small supply boats. As bunker samples are sent back to shore to be tested every time a vessel receives new bunker, F-drones is well-positioned in the world’s largest bunkering hub - Singapore. With IMO2020 kicking in, drones can also improve the productivity of compliance testing for vessels entering the port of Singapore.
The flights on 15 December 2019 are part of the tests that F-drones is conducting, before commencing commercial deliveries for its first customer, EPS. Headquartered in Singapore, EPS is one of the world’s largest privately-owned ship managers, with a strong focus in technology, innovation and sustainability. The company has inked a deal with F-drones for 200 commercial drone deliveries, which will commence in January 2020.
This is a strong testament to F-drones’ potential, a Singapore home-grown startup. It is leveraging Singapore as a test-bed, supported by the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). The first flights were at the Maritime Drone Estate established by MPA and CAAS earlier in 2019, and F-drones is looking to expand their operations to more anchorages in Singapore and to other parts of the world.
F-drones has a larger vision, of developing drones which would be capable of delivering 100kg loads over 100km, sending supplies to ships and offshore platforms. While it is now using a retrofitted off-the-shelf drone, which can only deliver payloads of up to 5kg over 5km; it is already building its next prototype (P2), which will deliver 5kg loads over 50km. F-drones is looking to unveil P2 in February 2020.