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Maersk just made the first official drone delivery to an undocked ship

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Maersk announced today it has made the first official drone delivery to an undocked ship, as reported by G-Captain. The test took place near the Kalundborg port in Denmark, and saw a small drone dropping a parcel more than 15 feet to the deck of an unmoored tanker. The initial plan was to launch the drone from shore, but inclement weather meant it had to be launched from a nearby tugboat.

It's part of a larger exploratory project for Maersk, which operates the largest tanker fleet in the world. Docking a large tanker ship is both expensive and time consuming, so supplies are typically delivered by barge. But those deliveries are expensive, often running thousands of dollars for a single delivery. If a drones could handle the most urgent of the deliveries, typically those involving mail, spare parts, or medicine, it could represent a huge savings for the company.

The company is still a long way from putting that idea into practice. For now, the main goal of the test is to make sure the drones won't add any new risks to the complex environment of a moving tanker ship. "It is fundamental that any drones used by Maersk Tankers are safe for the environment they are operating in," supply chain manager Markus Kuhn told G-Captain. "They must be certified as intrinsically safe for most tasks, so they cannot create any spark, even if they were to crash."


This bazooka can capture a drone