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AirAsia partners with MaGIC to launch an urban drone delivery service in Malaysia

7 March 2020

The Malaysian airline carrier's digital arm, AirAsia Digital, has teamed up with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to launch the Urban Drone Delivery Sandbox. The project's aim is to see whether shipping goods from AirAsia's e-commerce sites using unmanned drones is feasible.

The project's first phase will analyse the drone operators' capacity, expertise, approval process, deployment readiness, and operation extension. The service will be launched after a satisfactory trial period, and it could also be extended outside the sandbox area. The pilot project for the distribution of goods from AirAsia's e-commerce sites, including AirAsia's autonomous drone store, is to be carried out over a 6-month phased approach at the third NTIS test site in Cyberjaya.

Two local drone providers, VStream Revolution and Meraque Services, are currently being evaluated. Alphaswift Industries has built the drone for the operation of this launching event. The drone used in this demo is the E616S with the delivery box as its payload. The entire operation is autonomous and is guided by GPS and we have spotters along the route to ensure high safety.

NTIS has collaborated closely with Malaysia's sole technical regulator, the Malaysian Civil Aviation Authority (CAAM), to ensure the safety and protection of unmanned air services in urban environments follow the specifications and regulations laid down by CAAM.

CAAM controls all matters pertaining to aviation, including drones, in Malaysia, and there are currently no drone pilot licences available since their introduction is still in the works. However, there are also laws to be followed, such as no-fly zones, and whether you own a particular model of drone or want to use it for aerial work, you must first secure a permit.