Singapore tries out mail delivery drones

eGov Innovation editors
eGov Innovation

Singapore Post (SingPost) and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) are working together to develop a drone for delivering mail.

A test flight was successfully completed between Lorong Halus and Pulau Ubin last week, the first in the world for a postal service to successfully use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for point-to-point recipient-authenticated mail delivery.

Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), said that although it will be a while before it is viable for drone mail delivery to take off in Singapore, taking into consideration commercial and safety factors, it demonstrates what Singapore is trying out with its Smart Nation vision.

The test flight took five minutes and carried a payload of a letter as well as t-shirt in a parcel and flew a total distance of two kilometers.

The drone is equipped with enhanced safety features, and is complemented with a prototype app designed with security and verification features that ensures the mail reaches its intended recipient.

It has the capacity to carry a payload of up to half a kilogram, fly at a height of up to 45 meters and travel a distance of 2.3 kilometers. The focus of the flight was to test the drone technology and safety boundaries.

“There is immense potential in UAV technology for last-mile mail and e-commerce delivery,” said Dr. Bernard Leong, Head of Digital Services, SingPost. “Not only do we want to enable or accelerate e-commerce, we hope to contribute towards building Singapore into a Smart Nation, where technology improves the quality of lives.”

SingPost’s exploration of the drone technology is a move to improve urban logistics as well as tap on the burgeoning e-commerce growth in Asia-Pacific, which is expected to reach $175 billion by 2016.

The multi-agency Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Committee, which facilitated the trial, said has been encouraging and discussing with public and private sector organisations on innovative uses of UAS.

“The technology opens up numerous exciting possibilities which could help us enhance operational productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. All this, of course, needs to be carried in a safe manner, both for the public as well as aviation,” said Pang Kin Keong, Committee Chairman, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport.

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