Singapore’s civil aviation authority has got behind the project, saying it recognises the potential for drones “to transform mobility and logistics”, and is working with industry players as it seeks to shape regulations for the sector.
During recent tests, a drone buzzed through the air, snapping pictures of a tower block’s facade, trials for a system that could see laborious human inspections of the city’s ubiquitous high-rises replaced by automated checks.
“Today’s existing building inspection process is extremely slow, expensive, tedious, prone to accidents, fatigue and human error,” said Shawn Koo, chief technical officer of H3 Zoom, a unit of the firm H3 Dynamics, which is behind the tests.
Such inspections are typically carried out by workers from South or Southeast Asia, who hang precariously outside buildings on platforms suspended by ropes.
The new system will see high-resolution images taken by drones and analysed to check for defects, with inspections taking a few days rather than a few weeks, as they do at the moment. H3 Zoom hopes to fully launch the inspections next year.
Drones are also being tested as robotic guards by local firm ST Aerospace.
At its command centre, screens show a simulated security breach in a fence. A black drone is deployed, which chases an intruder while transmitting live images that direct security officers towards him to make an arrest.
Tests have also been carried out for drone parcel delivery while a hospital operator plans to use the devices to transport blood samples and specimens between its hospitals and central laboratory.