NTIS-AirAsia Formed Teleport, Poised To Realise Urban Drone Delivery Service

There was a time when the possibility of a drone reaching to a doorstep delivering parcels in Malaysia seemed like a pipedream, a futuristic service like this can only happen in the US or Europe. Even though the drone technology has evolved leaps and bound since they first appeared, innovative application and regulations could take years or even decades before such a prospect could be considered for a country like ours. However, things are about to change and we could be seeing drones hovering in the skies, dropping our shopping items that we just ordered from a eCommerce site thanks to a progressive Ministry and a well established entrepreneur who knows a thing or two about the skies.

Ministry of Science and Technology and AirAsia Digital have collaborated to form an aerial delivery logistics venture called Teleport. Partnered under Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) who is the Lead Secretariat of the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) will be working on the Urban Drone Delivery Sandbox and develop a long-term viability of urban drone delivery service.

The pilot project for the delivery of goods will be from airasia’s e-commerce platforms using automated drones, the project will be carried out through a 6-month phased approach at the third National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) test site in Cyberjaya. The service is currently at testing stage with two local drone operators VStream Revolution Sdn Bhd and Meraque Services Sdn Bhd.

During the period, the project will be assessing the capability, experience, approval process, deployment readiness and service expansion of the drone operators. The service will be deployed upon a successful trial phase and might be expanded beyond the sandbox environment.

NTIS role is primarily to provide a critical step by eliminating all or selected processes and/or regulatory requirements to accelerate the development of innovative solutions from the R&D stage to being commercially ready. 

Although the steps were reduced, NTIS worked closely with Malaysia’s sole technical regulator, Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) to ensure the safety and security of Unmanned Air Services in urban settings meets the requirements and regulations as set by CAAM.

The global market size specific to drone package delivery was USD642.4 million in 2019, and is projected to reach USD7.388 billion in 2027. The drone delivery of goods can be expanded and scaled up beyond e-commerce, such as delivery of essential or medical supplies to areas that are rural, remote, or affected by natural disasters. 

To this point Khairy Jamaluddin, MOSTI Minister added” We are poised to be the frontrunner in the DroneTech industry, which is expected to generate USD127 billion by 2025.”

With the launch, other drone tech startups are invited to join in with NTIS able to connect them with regulators, telcos and other ecosystem players. The Minister also reminded on how the pandemic had presented the nation with an opportunity to accelerate structural changes to the economy, in terms of digitisation, digitalisation, automation and robotics, and that Malaysia must embrace that change to vault the country towards becoming an innovation driven economy

Airasia will be the first to pilot the project with more corporations expected to join the fray in what could be a big sector in coming years. The low cost airline is embarking on new revenue model while waiting for the industry to pick up again and has been active in the eCommerce space.

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