Port of Antwerp and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) are to work together in controlling access to the Antwerp port area using a system of surveillance drones, following an agreement between the parties.
Working with FPS Mobility and Transport, Port Authority officers will collaborate with drone pilots to provide them with an overview of the 120km² port area.
The images can be accessed remotely and shared with emergency services, as necessary. Images are only used for monitoring purposes and are not stored, the port says, to maintain privacy.
The drone will be used during regular checks and for rapid response in the event of an incident. Imagery from the drones will also be used by the University of Antwerp to train algorithms to automatically detect incidents in the future, such as oil spills.
As part of Port of Antwerp’s participation in the EU SAFIR (Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment) project, extensive tests have already been carried out to investigate the feasibility of manned and unmanned drones at the port.
The ultimate goal is to create a network of autonomous drones that can provide a ‘live feed’ of various port activities, to create smarter, safer and more efficient ports.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure a safe port and drones will become indispensable for this in the near future, including at our port,” said Port alderman Annick De Ridder.
“Innovation is crucial to guarantee the sustainable growth of our port in the long term. This collaboration also confirms that the port is the ideal environment in which to test and further develop innovative technology.”