Port of Antwerp begins operation of drone network

The Port of Antwerp has introduced a new security system that will see six autonomous drones perform daily flights in the port area, the result of a partnership between the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, DroneMatrix, SkeyDrone and Proximus.

The ‘D-Hive drone-in-a-box’ network will cover an area of more than 120km² around the Antwerp port, providing a unique overview to assist the port authorities in managing, inspecting and supervising the site.

The port will use the drones for a range of functions including berth management, monitoring, infrastructure inspections, oil spill and floating waste detection, and to support security partners during incidents. The 18 daily BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone flights will be remotely controlled from a Command and Control Centre in the heart of the port.

Unlike VLOS (Visual Line Of Sight) flights, BVLOS operations will take place out of the pilot’s sight. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is working with partners DroneMatrix, SkeyDrone and Proximus to run the D-Hive network.

“Given the huge surface area of the port, drones provide us with leverage when it comes to carrying out our core tasks as a port authority,” said Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

“This drone network will play a crucial role in the further roll-out of the port’s digital twin, a digital copy based on thousands of pieces of data from a network of cameras, sensors and drones, giving a real-time picture of what is happening at the port every second.”

“This first takes us an important step further in developing a fully digital nervous system that will help us manage our port more efficiently and make traffic even safer and smoother.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

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