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Airbus and Wilhelmsen Ships Service have entered into a strategic collaboration to develop UAS and related services for maritime parcel deliveries, Airbus announced on 5 June.

Skyways is an experimental project that aims to develop a safe and commercially viable aerial unmanned delivery system for use in dense urban cities in its first trial phase. The project is being led by a team in Singapore, where plans are progressing towards the launch of a first trial system at the National University of Singapore in July 2018.

The agreement allows the companies to start the shore-to-ship trial phase which will cover the delivery of goods from the Singapore coast to ships anchored at bay.

The initial two-week shore-to-ship pilot trial will begin in the third quarter of 2018. Command and delivery centres will be set up at the pier to facilitate the deliveries with an initial delivery range of up to 3km from the shoreline.  A second delivery station will be positioned at an open space in Marina South to extend delivery coverage to more anchored vessels.

Under the collaboration, Airbus is the overall Skyways system architect and provider. It will leverage experiences from its first trial phase to develop the UAS for shore-to-ship deliveries. The system-of-systems includes aviation-standard UAVs, ground control stations, air navigation systems and operational and maintenance procedures.

Wilhelmsen will develop and provide customer services and ensure compliance of the UAS operations with maritime safety and security regulations.