Singapore launches urban UTM research centre

“The Government is actively facilitating the use of UAS by both the private and the public sectors.  We will be designating One-North, an active R&D hub in Singapore, as Singapore’s first drone estate.  The drone estate will provide companies and research institutions with an urban environment for test-bedding innovative UAS technologies.  This will help the growth of high-tech companies with UAS capabilities, and spur meaningful commercial partnerships.  I am glad to note that Airbus, ST Aerospace and NTU’s Air Traffic Management Research Institute have come on board as pioneer users of the One-North drone estate.”

Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan laid out a new urban UTM research initiative at the sixth Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS) on 5 February.

The objective is to provide industries and research organisations with an urban testing environment in which to trial commercial drone operations. According to a 7 February press release from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore:

“The Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and JTC will designate one-north as a drone estate to facilitate the trial of innovative UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) technologies and commercial use-cases in a controlled urban environment. Master-planned and developed by JTC, one-north is a 200ha business park that offers an ideal location to test varying urban environment complexities for UAS operations. These comprise various typologies ranging from high-rise to low-rise buildings, as well as public spaces like parks. one-north is also a fertile ground for research and innovation, where a vibrant community of start-ups, technology owners and research institutions test-bed their latest urban solutions.

“Under the drone estate initiative, approved operators and research users can carry out their trials and operations at one-north without compromising safety and security. For a start, CAAS will be working with companies which intend to conduct trials and other development activities in the drone estate for a variety of potential use cases.”

The organisations involved include:

  • Singtel, which will be looking at testing a drone delivery network
  • Nanyang Technological University’s Air Traffic Management Research Institute plans to conduct trials on how to manage multiple drone operations in low-altitude airspace.
  • ST Aerospace will be researching whether drones can take over hazardous operations performed by humans
  • JTC and H3 Dynamics are collaborating to enhance the quality and productivity of building inspections.
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