The Port of Antwerp, in collaboration with FPS Mobility and Transport, has entered into an agreement with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to use drones to assist with port enforcement and control.
The drone pilot accompanies port authorities during enforcement tasks to help quickly and securely manage, inspect and supervise the area. They can also be used in the events of incidents to gain quick insight into the situation. When inspecting for possible pollution, the drones use infrared to identify sources or to detect irregularities at a terminal.
“This partnership with EMSA helps us to make use of emerging technology in our implementation so that we can react more quickly to accidents and provide port users with a safer port," said Paul Wauters, Port of Antwerp harbor master.
Remote access to images allows for quick communication with emergency responders. The University of Antwerp will use the images of oil spills to train an algorithm that will detect oil spills automatically in the future.
The Harbour Safety and Security Department have a second pair of eyes. The fully autonomous drone will be used in the field to evaluate different inspection and control use cases. This is a short-term port with the aim of assisting the port authority with its core mission through the use of a network of autonomous drones.
The "port of the future" platform, made available by the port of Antwerp to roll out developments in the port area, is the source of these initial tests.
The official statement expresses " The use of drones can make a significant contribution to overall safety in this complex environment."
DroneMatrix, an autonomous drone developed in collaboration with the company, was deployed. It departed from a fixed operational base near Kieldrecht Lock and took a default route around the port. The drone operated completely autonomously and charged itself via an intelligent docking station controlled centrally via a web platform.
Port of Antwerp's involvement in the SAFIR project has already provided for extensive tests to explore the feasibility of harbour manned and unmanned drones.