Delivery by drones will become a reality as AirAsia Digital partners with MaGiC


PETALING JAYA: Malaysian shoppers can look forward to seeing their purchases being delivered by automated drones in the future as AirAsia Digital partners with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to launch the Urban Drone Delivery Sandbox.

The pilot project for the delivery of goods from AirAsia’s e-commerce platforms including AirAsia shop using automated drones is set to be carried out through a six-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.

The first phase of the project in Cyberjaya seeks to assess 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.

As a national solution coordination and facilitation centre, NTIS provides 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.

NTIS has also been working closely with Malaysia’s sole technical regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), to ensure that the safety and security of Unmanned Air Services (UAS) in urban settings meets existing requirements and regulations to ensure that public safety remains the highest priority whilst facilitating technology advancement.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said NTIS also welcomes other drone tech startups to scale up by connecting them with regulators, telcos and other ecosystem players.

He said NTIS’ role is to develop a more vibrant drone tech ecosystem, and this can be expedited with government intervention.

“The pandemic has presented us the opportunity to accelerate structural changes to the economy, in terms of digitisation, digitalisation, automation and robotics, and we must embrace that change to vault Malaysia towards becoming an innovation-driven economy.

“We believe this strategic partnership between AirAsia and MaGIC will speed things up and signal the beginning of the nation’s urban drone delivery revolution, ” he said.

Khairy added that Malaysia is poised to be the frontrunner in the DroneTech Industry which is expected to generate US$127bil by 2025.

He added the global drone package delivery market size was US$642.4mil in 2019, and is projected to reach US$7.388bil in 2027.

“The drone delivery of goods can be expanded and scaled up beyond e-commerce, such as the delivery of essential or medical supplies to areas that are rural, remote, or affected by natural disasters, ” he said.

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said AirAsia is excited to be partnering with MaGIC to explore urban drone delivery that has the potential to improve efficiency and operational excellence as well as accelerate the pace of delivery in urban areas.

“Most importantly, this innovation will allow us to create new and high-tech job opportunities for Malaysians.

“The ability to pivot is part of our culture and while some are losing their jobs in aviation, we offer a second chance for them to build a new career with us through e-commerce, ” he said.

Meanwhile, CAAM said it authorised the UAS delivery flight test and demonstration, and carried out the necessary assessment using Specific Operation Risk Assessment (SORA) analysis methodology in order to ensure that the safety and security of the operation during the event was properly assessed and mitigated.

It added that the Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) flight demo which took place from Cyberjaya Park (Taman Mini Cyberjaya) to MaGIC operated with a distance of 1.74km with an altitude of 80m above ground level.

“Moving forward, CAAM will continue to uphold the safety and security of Malaysia airspace whilst protecting the interest of the public.

“CAAM is always committed to formulating the needed requirements for the purpose of integrating the developments of drone technologies for safe and secure operations, ” CAAM CEO Captain Chester Voo said in a statement Saturday (March 6).

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