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Ongoing trials for unmanned drones in Singapore

Image credits: https://www.straitstimes.com/ SPH

 As part of Singapore’s smart nation sensor network launch, there are ongoing trials for the use of unmanned drones in remote inspection and maintenance of Singapore’s Southern Islands.

This trial will commence over six months.

This project is jointly monitored by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

It will involve testing the use of the broadcasting spectrum known as TV white space (TVWS) to manage the unmanned drones and send video footage in real-time over long distances.

TVWS is a low-cost and trustworthy broadcast band which offers long-range wireless connectivity for data transmission, over about 10km.

The trials will be conducted on five Southern Islands: Kias Island, St John’s Island, Pulau Seringat, Pulau Hantu Besar and Kusu Island.

The assistant chief executive of land operations at SLA Thong Wai Lin said that SLA has administered the use of unmanned drones and sensors for surveillance of about 11,000ha of state land.

The Southern Islands of Singapore, however, face disconnected and weak Wi-Fi connectivity, thus not providing a suitable environment for the use of drones.

This broadcast band is generally used for broadcasting signals and trials on it are being conducted because the signals of this broadcast are unaffected by sea waves, weather conditions and passing ships.

The trial will focus on studying and determining if TV white space is best suited for sending high-quality videos in real-time. TVWS is currently being underused in Singapore.

TVWS could be used to allow for the existence of Internet networks on the islands which will be accessed and connected to by visitors.

Mr Lim Chinn Hwa, senior director of smart nation platform solutions at GovTech, said: “TV white space can potentially be an affordable and reliable solution to enable technologies such as sensors, IoT (Internet of Things) and robotics to be deployed in areas of Singapore with limited 4G and Wi-Fi coverage.”

The three government agencies will work closely with a Singapore start-up to discover the various ways in which TVWS connectivity can be used to support sensor and Internet of Things (IoT) applications on the above-listed islands.

TVWS will be used to connect to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and manage their flight over some of the islands.

Singapore is the first country within the region to conduct drone flight test trials while using the TVWS broadcast band.

Singapore has previously conducted trials and has considered the use of drones in other areas such as security and for delivering medicine.

A consortium (i.e., Future Flight Consortium) led by start-up Garuda Robotics had been selected by Singapore’s civil aviation authority and transport ministry to create an air traffic control system for drones in Singapore.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force, which manages the city-state’s emergency services, and Garuda Robotics said they were in talks to use drones in the force’s operations to deliver
“critical life-saving supplies”.

Plans involved using drones to transport blood samples and specimens between its hospitals and central laboratory, while a security firm said it will use the devices to respond to security incidents and fire alarms.

Its uses could also include delivering emergency medical supplies and responding to security incidents across
the city-state.

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