Drones could be used across hi-tech Singapore to deliver life-saving medical supplies to a patient during an emergency or to respond to a security breach under a new system in development, a private consortium said Tuesday. Future Flight Consortium, a 13-member group, said it had been chosen by the country's civil aviation authority and transport ministry to develop the drone programme. Its uses could include transporting blood samples, delivering emergency medical supplies and responding to security incidents across the city-state, it said in a statement. Tiny Singapore, with a population of 5.6 million, is ultra-modern, well-ordered and tightly regulated -- factors seen to improve the scheme's chance of working. The drones would be operated remotely by pilots at an operations centre and be able to travel relatively long distances across the city-state. This is in contrast to their recreational counterparts -- whose use is permitted in Singapore -- which can travel only short distances and are at all times visible to their operators. The consortium said it will generate flight paths for the drones, and will develop a private communications network as well as take-off and landing sites. "Our goal is to make it possible for any enterprise who needs to fly drones (beyond the visual sight of the pilots) in Singapore to easily do so in a safe and effective manner," said Future Flight project director Ong Jiin Joo. The consortium gave a two-year timeline for the development of the system and pledged to conduct rigorous safety tests. The Singapore Civil Defence Force -- which manages the city-state's emergency services -- and fellow consortium member Garuda Robotics said they were in talks to use drones in the force's operations, in particular to deliver "critical life-saving supplies". A hospital operator in the consortium said it plans to use drones to transport blood samples and specimens between its hospitals and central laboratory, while a security firm said it will use the devices to respond to security incidents and fire alarms.
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