The drones are coming

It's a bird.

It's a plane.

It's a drone?

As government agencies look into the various uses of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones, they may soon be a regular feature in Singapore.

As you look up to the skies, you might just spot the DragonFly dispensing larvicide on a rooftop or the Eagle circling a construction site to inspect it.

At sea, you might spot the Water Spider landing on an oil spill so that the authorities can get a closer look from far.

Government agencies demonstrated these uses of UAS at a media conference by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) yesterday.

The agencies are looking into more than 25 potential uses of UAS.

Mr Pang Kin Keong, Permanent Secretary for MOT and chairman of the UAS Committee, said: "We need a UAS policy framework that is balanced, practical and sustainable given the many potential applications and uses of drones and their increasing availability and affordability."


"We want to try to facilitate and encourage the use of drones in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations, both at the public and private sectors," he said.

The demonstrations were conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the various agencies involved in the inspection and monitoring of construction sites.

The UAS Committee has also initiated an inter-agency effort to promote efficient use of resources and manpower by public agencies for construction site inspections.

With the use of UAS, the risk and time taken for workers going up high places for inspections can be minimised.

Also, since inspection of construction sites involve seven public agencies including the Building and Construction Authority and NEA, a common platform called GeoSpace that allows agencies to share data within government intra-net was launched.

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Uses: Inspection and monitoring of construction sites including ensuring that barricades are erected for safety, struts (earth retaining and stabilising structures) are properly placed and sewers, drains and water mains are safeguarded.

The Eagle is a collaboration between Aetos Holdings and Germany's Multirotor Service Drone.

Weight: 6kg

Rotors: 8

Max height: 61m

Stable in winds of up to 50 kmh

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Water Spider

Uses: Aerial surveillance, monitoring oil spills and support for search and rescue.

The Water Spider is a collaboration between MPA and Hope Technik.

Weight: 5kg

Rotors: 4

Endurance: 3 hours (tethered)

Max height: 60m

Drone launches from patrol boat

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Uses: Inspection of high places for mosquito breeding spots and dispensing of larvicide to control mosquito breeding. It is manufactured by Garuda Robotics.

Weight: About 1.4kg

Rotors: 4

Endurance: 15-20 minutes per charge

Max height: More than 120m

Trap door opens and dispenses pellets into gutter

To facilitate the public agencies' procurement of UAS services from commercial vendors, MOT will be calling a tender to invite service providers to bid for a master contract for UAS services at the end of this month.

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Workplace accidents

Incident investigation of worksite crane accident

Quick assessment (aerial surveillance)

Nano drones used for quick assessment of emergency situations

Air accident investigation

Providing an aerial perspective of a wreckage site to aid planning of field investigative work


Surveillance of state land and properties

Aerial surveillance for encroachment detection on state lands

Surveillance of waterways

Detection of illegal activities such as fishing and illegal dumping

Emergency response (chemical/oil spill monitoring)

Incident monitoring at sea


Site inspections

Inspection of formwork and work-at-height safety conditions

Inspection of buildings (built-up)

Outdoor inspections of building facade

Rooftop inspection

Roof gutter inspection for mosquito breeding spots


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Survey and mapping

Aerial images of buildings and roads for mapping purposes.

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3D modeling of structures

3D model of conserved buildings.

This article was first published on Feb 5, 2016.
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