Unmanned air systems and the technology behind them may be advancing, yet the parameters governing their safe application in an urban setting, from regulatory frameworks to industry standards, are still in a nascent stage. Many trials are expected to take place first in order to study how drones can operate with minimal disruption to the environment and its communities.
In Singapore, ST Engineering has seeded the possibility of food delivery by drones with a proof of concept delivery exercise.
In collaboration with food delivery company, foodpanda, the Group is studying food delivery by drones in the urban setting. Intended as a complement to foodpanda riders, the drones could ideally be able to pick up and deliver orders at designated collection points located across Singapore via approved flight routes where foodpanda’s 12,000 riders would be waiting to complete the last-mile delivery.
ST Engineering conducted a test flight of the first shore-to-ship food delivery using drones in August 2020. Five packets of ayam penyet (“smashed” fried chicken) were delivered from Marina South Pier to a vessel, located 3km off the pier, in just under ten minutes. The food was a treat for the vessel crew who stayed onboard the accommodation vessel.
In April 2022, we had another successful collaboration with foodpanda and Sentosa Development Corporate to pilot food delivery from Sentosa to St John’s island using our DroNet Solution.
The pilot, which took place over two weeks, involved a selected group of trial participants on St John’s Island. These participants were able to order freshly prepared meals from a variety of participating F&B establishments in Sentosa via the foodpanda app. The meals were transported by foodpanda riders to the take-off point at Tanjong Beach, where our in-house drone awaited to deliver the food over a seven-minute flight journey to a designated collection point on St John’s Island.
With the success of the test flight, ST Engineering continues to explore food delivery using drones by testing longer distance and duration flights. While it may take years before food-delivering drones are a common sighting, we have successfully set the stage for development in Singapore and will continue to innovate towards that vision.