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Speech by Senior Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng at the Opening Ceremony of Rotorcraft Asia and Unmanned Systems Asia

09 Apr 2019 Speeches

Your Excellencies,

Mr. Vincent Chong, Chairman, Experia Events

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

1.     I am happy to join you at the second edition of Rotorcraft Asia and Unmanned Systems Asia 2019. This is an important event which brings together close to 100 participating companies from around the world to Singapore to share insights and forge
partnerships on rotorcraft and unmanned systems.

The Possibilities and Innovative Uses of Drones

2.     Rapid technological advancements in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, have opened up a new horizon and enabled the growth of innovative applications across industries. A report by Goldman Sachs1 has projected that the global drone industry will reach US$100 billion by 2020, with the fastest growth opportunities coming from the commercial applications of drones.

The use of Drones in Singapore

3.     In Singapore, we recognise the advantages of drones, and public agencies have been harnessing drone technology for a wide range of uses. For example, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is using drones to conduct inspections of rooftops to detect the presence of stagnant water that may lead to mosquito breeding, and deposit larvicide to eliminate the risk. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is using drones to create digital 3D models of existing construction sites to enhance project planning, and has trialled the use of drones for construction site inspections and traffic monitoring.

4.     We are also collaborating with our industry partners and facilitating the innovative use of drones in Singapore’s urban environment. Last July, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) co-funded four projects under a Call-For-Proposal for innovative use of UAS. One of the projects is a collaboration between Airbus and Wilhelmsen Ship Services to trial shore-to-ship deliveries. Just last month, they completed the world’s first deployment of drone technology in real-time port conditions to deliver small, time-critical items to working vessels at anchorage. We have also set-up regulatory sandboxes to facilitate trials. MPA and CAAS will be launching the Maritime Drone Estate near Marina South Pier later this year. Together with the one-north drone estate launched by JTC, CAAS and MOT last year, these sandboxes provide a conducive environment to test-bed and develop a variety of urban and maritime drone applications.

Launch of the Singapore UAS Community

5.     On this note, I am pleased to note that the Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore), or AAIS, will be officially launching ‘The Singapore UAS Community’, with the support of CAAS and Enterprise Singapore. It will be open to aerospace companies, start-ups, and institutes of higher learning, and will serve as the voice of the UAS industry and support its continued growth in Singapore.

New Frontiers and New Risks

6.     There will be other potential uses of drones. For example, the ability to employ drones Beyond Visual-Line-of-Sight, or BVLOS, will greatly enhance the utility and flexibility of such operations. But we have to be mindful of the risks involved. One such risk is that the drone operator may not be able to ascertain the position of the drone relative to people, buildings or aircraft. That is why CAAS has taken a calibrated, risk-based approach. In February this year, CAAS approved ST Engineering Aerospace to trial their DroNet UAS solution over the Lower Seletar reservoir, which is a low density area.

7.     To better understand the potential and risks of electric Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing vehicles (eVTOLs), or commonly known as air taxis, CAAS will facilitate such trials in Singapore, in controlled locations away from human traffic and property.

8.     It is through deliberate and rigorous testing that we can better understand the risks of UAS technology and applications, and then design systems, measures and regulatory framework to address the risks and harness the benefits of UAS technology. We welcome companies to continue to use Singapore as a test bed to trial innovative UAS applications.

9.     I wish everyone a fruitful and productive time, and I declare the show open. Thank you.

1 Goldman Sachs, Drones Reporting for Work (2016).