Future Flight Consortium Chosen by Singapore Government to Test Urban Drone Applications

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Ministry of Transport just handed the Future Flight Consortium keys to the country's skies.

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Startup company Garuda Robotics’ Future Flight Consortium (FFC) has been chosen to develop an unmanned traffic management (UTM) system to handle the expected drone traffic increase in Singapore, according to Tech in Asia

Last November, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Ministry of Transport agreed the country needed to focus on establishing a thorough UTM if it wanted to maintain and increase its current UAV utilization. As it stands, the city-state’s One North district is the only territory legally allowed to partake in beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations. The FFC’s winning proposal would finally enable these kinds of flights across Singapore’s urban areas and thereby open up commercial applications such as drone delivery, inspection, surveillance, and more.

“Our goal is to make it possible for any enterprise who needs to fly drones BVLOS in Singapore to easily do so in a safe and effective manner,” said One Jiin Joo, Garuda Robotics CTO and Future Flight Consortium project director, to Tech in Asia. Over the next two years, FFC members will work together on trialing their technologies and systems from a Drone Operations Center at an unspecified Singapore hub. The goal is to “demonstrate the reliability and safety of the system,” continued Joo. 

Using drones in “first responder” scenarios is another possibility being considered by FFC members Skyfront and the Singapore Defense Authority. Parkway Pantai, which operates four of the country’s hospitals, wants to use this progressive governmental drone period to test aerial blood and plasma deliveries between its central laboratory and clinics. 

Ultimately, what is occurring here is Singapore's version of the Trump administration's UAS Integration Pilot Program, wherein a select group designated by the FAA is partnered up with various territories to undergo a wide-ranging variety of drone-related testing. In that particular initiative, too, BVLOS operations are being loosened and reconsidered. For a city-state as technologically progressive as Singapore, the decision to keep moving steadily toward its drone-heavy future makes a lot of sense.

The FFC is comprised of the above corporate members as well as Singtel, AirMap, Gemalto, the University of Glasgow, Acorn International Network, Arete-M, Flare Dynamics, Volans-i, and the Security Industry Institute.