Shipping giant Maersk Group made headlines earlier this year when it used a drone to deliver a bucket of cookies to a tanker at sea. Now, Markus Kuhn, a supply chain manager at Maersk, told the Drones Data X audience, the company is looking for a drone-making partner for a test flight that would haul a 10-kilogram package for 10 kilometers.
That test would illustrate a key use case for Maersk, that of resupplying its fleet of tankers, oil platforms, container ships and other craft. The roughly 22-pound cargo in the next test would serve as a key proof of concept for getting more important gear to remote ships. That weight would cover a lot of the important equipment deliveries it makes
Looking further out, Maersk could use drones to cut the cost of operating its wide swath of businesses, which include a massive shipping line, a port logistics company and a oil platform operations company. Its interest in the burgeoning uncrewed vehicle market, including both drones and underwater craft, is also a vote of confidence for a nascent industry that will need support from consumers and businesses alike.
However, Kuhn isn’t interested in technology for its own sake. Each use of a drone has to be cheaper than whatever method Maersk is using now, he said.
This story got a lot of attention when it broke. It was a clever, somewhat whimsical video built around delivering some cookies, but the visuals made the value of the solution very clear. Beyond delivery, some of the areas that show great promise include the use of drones to inventory containers using RFID, and the use of drones to inspect the ships themselves, particularly the holds.