Airbus drones deliver first packages to ships offshore


Airbus began shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone last Friday
Airbus began shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone last Friday(Credit: Airbus)

As part of its Skyways project, Airbus has kicked off a new drone delivery trial in which its unmanned aircraft of the same name will deposit packages onto ships anchored offshore. Designed to streamline loading operations, it’s hoped the technology now being tested in Singapore will not only speed up delivery times, but offer a greener and safer way of doing business in busy ports.

Airbus is conducting the trials with logistics company Wilhelmsen Ships Services and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. The very first flight took place last Friday, with one of the company’s Skyways parcel delivery drones loaded up with 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) of 3D-printed objects for its first day on the job.

This meant taking off from the shoreline of Singapore’s Marina South Pier and flying autonomously over a distance of 1.5 km (0.93 mi) to a ship anchored off-shore. It then deposited its cargo on deck before completing the return leg, with the entire trip said to take no more than 10 minutes.

“We are thrilled to launch the first trial of its kind in the maritime world,” said Airbus’ Skyways lead, Leo Jeoh. “Today’s accomplishment is a culmination of months of intense preparation by our dedicated team, and the strong collaboration with our partner, as we pursue a new terrain in the maritime industry.”

According to Airbus, the Skyways drone is actually capable of carrying up to 4 kg (8.8 lb) and reaching vessels as far as 3 km (1.86 mi) off shore, traveling through dedicated aerial corridors with autonomous control software.

Airbus is conducting drone delivery trials with logistics company Wilhelmsen Ships Services and the Maritime and...

The remainder of the trials will explore these capabilities, as well as how unmanned aircraft can be put to use in the wider shipping industry to make things run a little smoother. These kinds of supplementary loading procedures could apparently speed up deliveries by up to six times, lower costs by up to 90 percent, help cut down on carbon emissions and also avoid accidents that can occur through typical loading procedures in busy ports.

“Delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to master via launch boat, is an established part of our portfolio of husbandry services, which we provide day in and day out, in ports all over the world,” says Marius Johansen, Vice President Commercial, Ships Agency at Wilhelmsen Ships Services. “Modern technology such as the unmanned aircraft systems, are just a new tool, albeit a very cool one, with which we can push our industry ever forward and improve how we serve our customers.”

Airbus will soon build on these initial flights with further testing of its Skyways drone in urban environments, with trials to kick off “soon” in partnership with the National University of Singapore.

Source: Airbus

Coordinated action to mitigate the effect of a hard Brexit around the port of Rotterdam

Source: Port of Rotterdam

The Port of Rotterdam Authority, the Municipality of Rotterdam, the Municipality of Vlaardingen and highways authority Rijkswaterstaat (Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management), are creating five new buffer parking sites. Trucks will be able to wait here temporarily if their customs documents have not been properly prepared for maritime crossings to the United Kingdom (UK), in the event of the country leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019.

The aim of the coordinated action is to minimise any extra delay resulting from additional customs formalities at ferry and shortsea terminals and to ensure freight traffic to the UK runs as smoothly as possible. After all, additional customs formalities are required for so-called third countries. Additionally, more intensive passport checks and inspections by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority could mean longer processing times at terminals.

The temporary buffer parking sites are marked out on the map. In the unlikely event of this additional capacity being insufficient, the organisations have additional overflow areas in reserve. Moreover, Rijkswaterstaat has been discussing traffic control plans with all parties to make sure it flows efficiently.

Of the approximately 54 million tonnes of freight that is traded annually between the UK and the Netherlands, around 40 million tonnes passes through the port of Rotterdam, and in particular via ferry and shortsea crossings. As soon as Brexit is a fact, the Dutch sea ports will form an outer border between the EU and the UK and this will have major consequences, in particular for the processing of customs papers and passport control.


The Port of Rotterdam Authority and the ferry terminals in Rotterdam jointly arranged for a simulation study to be conducted into the effects of Brexit on the processing of freight traffic at and on the approach to the terminals. Based on historical data, it can be assumed that approximately 400 trucks will not have their formalities in order. The results of this simulation study have allowed a substantiated estimate of the required number of temporary buffer parking places for heavy goods vehicles to be made. The figures mean the authorities can expect that the 700 additional spaces provided at buffer parking sites will be sufficient.

Northern bank buffer parking sites

On the northern bank in Hoek van Holland, the Municipality of Rotterdam has allocated the Oranjeheuvel site. This site is close to the ferry terminal in Hoek van Holland. Rijkswaterstaat is creating space there for around 200 trucks. In Maasdijk, in the municipality of Westland, Rijkswaterstaat has created a buffer site for around 50 trucks. In the municipality of Vlaardingen, a site is being created on Waterleidingstraat for around 80 trucks.

Southern bank buffer parking sites

On the southern bank, buffer parking sites are being created on Moezelweg and Seattleweg by order of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The site on Moezelweg will provide space for approximately 290 trucks. This site is in the vicinity of the ferry and shortsea terminals that operate out of the Europoort port area. The site on Seattleweg will provide space for approximately 80 trucks. Both sites can easily be reached from the A15 motorway, from both the easterly and westerly directions.

Temporary reception area

The buffer parking sites are only accessible to trucks that have not been given access to the ferry terminals in the port of Rotterdam because the Portbase system has not received prior notification of their cargo. Truck drivers can use these locations to liaise with their client or transport planner and make sure the necessary formalities can yet be completed.

Portbase prevents delay through Dutch ports

The Port Authority, the Municipality of Rotterdam and Rijkswaterstaat are advising exporters, hauliers and shippers to use Portbase to provide digital notification of their cargo that is destined for the UK. Using this Dutch supply chain solution for Brexit, cargo can pass quickly and without unnecessary delay through customs to and from the UK, even after Brexit.