Port of Antwerp-Bruges launches world’s first port drone network

Port Technology International 08 May 2023 Share
The Port of Antwerp-Bruges has launched the ‘D-Hive drone-in-a-box’ network to enhance security in the port area

The Antwerp port area is more than 120 square kilometres, and it will now be covered by the D-Hive network of six autonomous drones.

The drones are expected to offer a unique perspective from the air and enable the port authorities to manage, inspect, and supervise a large area quickly and effectively.

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 Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights will be remotely controlled from a command-and-control centre in the heart of the port.

This is the first implementation worldwide of BVLOS flights on this scale in an industrial environment.

Unlike Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) flights, these will take place out of the pilot’s sight.

The network is the result of a partnership between the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, DroneMatrix, SkeyDrone, and Proximus.

Two months ago, the partners were given the green light to launch the drone network.

This operational permit was built around a new BVLOS framework known as pre-Uspace airspace, built by Skeydrone and approved by the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as an appropriate and safe framework for BVLOS drone flights.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said: “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.

“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 drone, giving a real-time picture of what is happening at the port every second,” Vandermeiren added.

In February, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges announced that Dutch tank storage company, Vopak, is acquiring the shares of Gunvor Petroleum Antwerp (GPA) from commodity trader, Gunvor Group.

More recently, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and logistics provider, Routescanner, partnered to offer Routescanner’s Direct Connections to shippers and freight forwarders around the world.

Port Technology International 08 May 2023