Singapore puts drone plans in motion

Ministry of Transport has selected three vendors to deliver non-tethered and tethered drone services, which it hopes will support various public operations such as monitoring dengue-hit areas and construction sites.

Singapore is looking to expand its use of drones to support public services, for instance, to help monitor dengue-ht areas and construction sites.

The Ministry of Transport announced on Tuesday that it had awarded a main contract for the deployment of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, to three key vendors, from which government agencies would then approach to deploy the technology. This "master contract" arrangement would allow for economies of scale, said the ministry, adding that more public agencies were expected to conduct pilots using drones to support their daily operations.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore would administer the two-year master contract, which would end October 31, 2018.

Aetos Security Management and Avetics Global had been selected to offer both tethered and non-tethered drone services, while CWT Aerospace Services would deploy non-tethered drone services, said the transport ministry, which had called for the tender in April.

It described a non-tethered UAS as a drone that could take flight without any attached cables, while a tethered system would require the use of cables attached to the device. Tethered systems would have access to power supply and be able to send and receive data.

The Transport Ministry in February had unveiled plans for more than 25 use cases in which the public sector could tap drones. Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority, for instance, could deploy UAS from its patrol boats to respond to marine incidents including oil spill surveillance and support for search and rescue operations. Codenamed Water Spider, the drone in such use cases would improve operational efficiency during such emergency situations and complement traditional use of helicopter flights and satellite images.

The National Environment Agency also would use drones to support dengue control initiatives, such as monitoring roof gutters to ensure these were not clogged. In addition, a UAS could be used to deposit bacillus thuringiensis israelensis larvicide into roof gutters and exterminate mosquito larvae.

According to the Transport Ministry, the Land Transport Authority would expand ongoing trials at 10 work sites involved in the construction of Singapore's subway Thomson-East Coast Line, including Upper Thomson, Orchard, Marina Bay, and Havelock. The pilots were expected to run for up to a year.

Here, the drones could be deployed to study construction work, such as excavation and onsite traffic flow.

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