Reinventing Maritime Deliveries: F-drones

Driven by their vision to improve the efficiency and sustainability of maritime logistics, Singapore born-and-bred F-drones is the world’s first company to provide 24-hour commercial beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone deliveries.

Currently offering payloads of up to 10kg, F-drones is developing a proprietary aerial drone system that will be able to deliver 100kg payloads over 100km, to ships and offshore platforms. Nicolas Ang, co-founder & CEO of F-drones, details how they are transforming maritime logistics. 

Nicolas Ang with his co-founder Yeshwanth Reddy

Incepting F-drones

The story of F-drones began in 2019 when Nicolas met his co-founder Yeshwanth Reddy, through a start-up accelerator program – Entrepreneur First. Connecting through a shared passion of using drones for cargo deliveries, they drew up a business model that focused on disrupting business-to-business logistics. The company is also working towards making the drone deliveries fully autonomous. At present, F-drones’ drones are already able to identify the vessel’s location upon entry of the vessel’s IMO number and navigate to the vessels by themselves.  

 

" We believe that drones have the potential to reduce emissions and help companies save time, manpower and costs. Our vision is a world where logistics are a lot more efficient and sustainable, enabled by the large-scale cargo delivery drones that we are building."

Nicolas on how F-drones is plugging a gap in the industry

Expounding on the cost and time savings of drone deliveries, Nicolas cites how drones can complete deliveries within 10 minutes while a similar delivery by boat requires an hour. Not only are drones more cost-efficient, but they are also an environmentally friendlier option and emit significantly less carbon. For instance, a boat delivery to a ship that’s just 10km away would produce more than 100kg of CO2. With a drone, the same delivery would only produce less than 500 grams of CO2.

Drone Technology in Maritime Singapore

On their delivery process, Nicolas emphasised that crew safety is of paramount importance. This working closely with regulatory bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), to define the operating areas, procedures and safety measures to be taken in conducting drone deliveries to vessels.

“As we work closely with some of the world’s largest ship managers, we were also able to better understand the operational considerations and the safety measures that are needed to ensure that the drone delivery process is safe. In addition, our drones are programmed to automatically plot out flight paths by itself which avoids flying over other vessels. This hugely reduces the risk of any accidents,” he adds.

While F-drones has carried out a diverse range of deliveries, it was a series of deliveries that happened during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic that Nicolas finds especially memorable.

 

“Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the crew could not leave the vessel, but we were able to deliver the necessary health-related care bags for the shipping crew during a difficult time. These drone deliveries were especially close to my heart,” Nicolas recalls.  

 

Future of Drones in Maritime

In spite of its size, Singapore is a leading maritime city and innovations—such as drone technology– will bring Maritime Singapore to its next phase of growth. There is a vibrant start-up ecosystem in Singapore’s maritime industry with key players increasingly open to novel initiatives. Nicolas is highly optimistic about the future of drone technology.

“I find it important to stay ahead of technology trends especially in an industry like maritime, which has a long history where certain processes could have been done the same way over the past decades. Here at F-drones, we are developing a unique fixed wing electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft which can land on any vessel, even when they are moving or passing Singapore, in the not-so-distant future.”

Rounding up the conversation, we asked Nicolas if he had any tips for aspiring innovators.

 “For students or anyone else who is interested in becoming an innovator, I strongly encourage them to take up internships in emerging start-ups during their spare time, to get a better sense of the excitement in solving problems and creating new solutions. These are also important skills that I value, which will be useful even in other career roles.” – Nicolas on the future-ready skills that young talents require.

 

Ready to contribute to a purposeful industry with your expertise? Heed your calling and explore maritime opportunities through the MSC career portal now. 

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Mr. Lars Kastrup

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL LINES

Mr. Lars Kastrup is the Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd (PIL).

Prior to joining PIL, Mr. Kastrup was CEO of NOL/APL, and subsequently assumed the role of Executive Vice President, Strategy and M&A at CMA CGM Group. A veteran in the global shipping industry with over 30 years of experience, Mr Kastrup’s other roles include Executive Vice President of Assets at CMA CGM Group heading up CMA Terminals, CMA Ships, Container Logistics as well as regional carriers such as MacAndrews, OPDR and Mercosul; as well as Vice President at AP Moller-Maersk.
Mr. Kastrup complemented his tertiary education with leadership and management training at Penn State University and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Angeline Teo

MANAGING DIRECTOR & HEAD, GLOBAL TRANSPORTATION & OFFSHORE, OCBC BANK

Ms. Angeline Teo is the Managing Director and Head of Global Transportation and Offshore, Global Corporate Banking at OCBC Bank which focuses on the maritime, aviation, land & port ecosystems.
Ms. Teo has spent over three decades in maritime finance. Prior to OCBC, Ms. Teo was working at ING Bank, ABN Amro and DnB in Singapore focusing on maritime and offshore.
Ms. Teo graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Business Administration.

Mr. John Martin

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GARD SINGAPORE

Mr. John Martin began his career in London in 1989 with Richards Hogg Lindley Average Adjusters, and qualified as a Fellow of the UK Association of Average Adjusters in 2000.
At RHL he worked in their offices in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In 2003 he joined Gard Hong Kong, as a claims handler. Mr. Martin also worked in Gard Japan, and in 2014 he moved to Singapore to set up the Gard Singapore office.
Besides running Gard Singapore, Mr. Martin also heads the P&I and H&M claims units and is the Senior Claims Representative for Gard in Asia.

Mr. Cyril Ducau

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, EASTERN PACIFIC SHIPPING

Mr. Cyril Ducau is the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd, a leading shipping company headquartered in Singapore for the past 30 years.

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Mr. Ducau graduated from ESCP Europe Business School (Paris, Oxford, Berlin) and holds a Master of Science in business administration and a Diplom Kaufmann.