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Drone Delivery Could Cut Costs of Getting Supplies From Shore to Ship

Airbus will partner with a shipping servicing agency to try out a service for using drones to deliver packages to ships at sea.

Airbus and Wilhelmsen Ships Service announced the project at the Posidonia martitime show in Athens, Greece and in press releases put out by the two companies.

The companies said the project was experimental, but would begin with a service in which goods are delivered from Singapore to ships anchored just offshore. Singapore is one of the world’s busiest ports.

Airbus will provide the drones. Wilhelmsen will administer the deliveries and ensure compliance with maritime safety and security rules, the two companies said. The initial two-week pilot trial will start in the fall.

Delivery range will be up to 3 kilometers from shore.

“This collaboration with Wilhelmsen, the first of its kind in the region, gives us a unique test bed where we can trial, refine and shape the future of shore-to-ship drone technologies,” said Airbus Skyways project lead Leo Jeoh.

Wilhelmsen is keen to test the technology for its regular ship servicing business, which includes delivery of spare parts, medical supplies and cash to ships all over the world. Currently, those deliveries are made by small launch boat.

“Delivery by drone is much more cost effective, quicker, and frankly safer for all involved,” said Marius Johnansen, vice president commercial, for Wilhelmsen’s Ships Agency.

The companies said not only would drone delivery reduce costs – potentially by as much as 90 percent, it would also reduce the carbon output from launching the smaller boats.


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