• Photo: Port of Antwerp-Bruges

01.06.2023 By: Christian Doepgen

Artikel Nummer: 45375

Optimus Prime & Co

Drones fortify the network in Antwerp’s port compound. Operations in the port area are now monitored from the air at the mouth of the river Scheldt in Antwerp. Six drones that are in action on 18 flights a day make this possible.

Robots aren’t only among us – they’re above us too. The Antwerp port area is now monitored by six autonomous drones that make daily flights over the facility.

The partners in this new endeavour launched by the port of Antwerp-Bruges are the drone manufacturer Matrix, the Belgian aviation security software provider SkeyDrone, and the drone platform provider Proximus. The gateway doesn’t own the drones or the network concerned, in the project, but rather leases drone flights from the services providers involved.

This so-called ‘D-Hive’ network is now operational, with six automated drones covering the entire port area of Antwerp-Bruges, an area of more than 120 km².

No less than 18 flights a day

The operational functions are manifold. The port will use the drones for berth management, infrastructure monitoring and inspection, early detection of oil spills, flotsam and other emissions, and “to support security partners in case of incidents,” amongst many other things. In short – security operations of all kinds.

Initially the partners plan to operate 18 daily automated bvlos flights (beyond the visual line of sight), which will be remotely controlled from a command and control centre located centrally in the port.

This is the first implementation worldwide of such bvlos flights in an industrial environment. Two months ago the partners received the green light to carry these operations out in a ‘pre-U-Space airspace’ developed by SkeyDrone. It has already been approved by the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa). Other ports intend to follow this pilot project shortly.


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