In the Zoom on the team of the ScaleFlyt Newsletter, fifth edition, we highlight Manuj: the Head of the APAC (Asia Pacific) FLX Drone program based in Singapore. Manuj role and responsibilities are discussed, showcasing his valuable contributions to the team's success.
Q: Could you introduce yourself and your role within the team? How long have you been part of this team?
I am Manuj, the Head of the APAC (Asia Pacific) FLX Drone program based in Singapore and our scope includes countries in the region: Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, Japan as well as India and neighboring countries, and we also support Australia.
My role in the team is to provide overall program management for the Singapore team, to drive and provide leadership to different activities like Business Development, Product Development, Industrialization and Manufacturing. I joined the team in March 2020. It was just at the beginning of the global pandemic and an interesting challenge to set up our activities and team during this period.
Q: What made you decide to become the APAC Head of drone program?
I am deeply passionate about Mobility & Transportation, and throughout my academic and professional journey, I've actively engaged in various projects. These include contributing to satellite development, spearheading innovations such as displays/navigation and UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience) for cars, implementing Bluetooth systems for motorbikes, and creating digital products like parking apps.
Given my enthusiasm for the evolving landscape of Urban Mobility, particularly in the realm of drones, joining the Thales Singapore Drones team was an ideal opportunity to continue this journey to the new frontier of Mobility (UAVs/UAM).
Q: How do drones enhance the value in ship-to-shore delivery?
This presents a compelling use case for drones. Let's consider cargo ships as an example. The time spent at a port directly translates to costs for operators, and port authorities strive for a swift turn-around time for vessels, though achieving this is not always straightforward.
When a ship approaches a port, it is initially required to anchor (park) in the waters outside the port to complete paperwork. This process involves dispatching a smaller boat from the shore to deliver documents, permits, and even cash to the ship. However, a drone could efficiently carry this payload, typically weighing less than 5 kg, from the shore to the ship, eliminating the need for a boat.
Moreover, there are situations where the rapid delivery of emergency supplies, such as small packs of medications, vaccines, test kits (e.g., in the case of a pandemic), or repair spares, is crucial. Drones can perform this task effectively, ensuring timely and efficient transport to the ships.
Q: How do you see the future of the drone industry?
The future of Drone industry is exciting; the future is likely to see a rise in autonomous drone operations. Automation, coupled with advanced navigation systems and artificial intelligence will enable drones to perform tasks with greater autonomy, performance, reducing the need for constant human intervention. This can lead to increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Drones are our eyes in the sky for surveillance, delivering parcels, or performing dangerous jobs like inspecting a high-rise building, dam or bridge. Regulatory frameworks for drone operations are evolving to accommodate the growing industry. Balancing the imperative of ensuring safety while fostering innovation is crucial, which is why our team at Thales remains committed to deploying solutions that prioritize and enhance flight safety.