The National University of Singapore will use drones to deliver parcels across its campus in the first part of an experiment by the government.

People will fly “important and urgent items like documents” to other parts of the campus, with drones picking up and dropping off parcels at designated stations, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said.

If this proves successful, the government will move to the second trial: using drones to deliver medicines, oil samples and electronic parts to ships anchored at its bay.

The aim of the two trials is to build and test drone delivery infrastructure in large urban environments, the civil aviation agency said. This will including developing drones, aerial corridors, fleet management, automated parcel stations and a joint communication system.

CAAS today a signed memorandum of understanding with Airbus Helicopters to work on the project. The company has already begun work with the university to plan its trials.

“We need to prepare for the greater use of unmanned aircraft in our urban environment to help address the new and future needs of our society,” said Kevin Shum, Director-General of CAAS.

The government last year set up a cross-agency committee to help agencies trial drones. Agencies are testing over 25 uses of drones, including to combat dengue and clean up oil-spills.

“We want to facilitate their use by industry and the public sector, and also hobbyists, but we must at the same time ensure that the regulatory regime keeps apace with these changes to enable such uses”, he said.

Image by Richard Unten, licensed under CC BY 2.0