Economic viability of drone traffic tested

drone A live test flight with a drone at the Port of Antwerp. Image: Port of Antwerp
Industry Database

Drones have been tested at a Belgium port to demonstrate the economic viability of drone traffic in this environment.

The SAFIR consortium held an open day at the Port of Antwerp last month, at which it presented a large number of industrial and commercial drone applications, with live test flights.

Erwin Verstraelen, chief digital & innovation officer at the Port of Antwerp, confirmed that drones can play an important role in the port of the future. "Our objective is to have a network of autonomous drones supplying a live feed of the various port activities. This will be an enormously useful tool for the entire port community,” he said.

UTM platform

The consortium went on to prove the effective operation of a management system (UTM platform) that shows which drones are flying where at all times. This enables local authorities to control, inspect and manage their airspace, including the imposition of ‘no fly’ zones.

The Antwerp port area covers more than 120 square kilometres of sensitive industrial infrastructure. The use of drones combined with a central management system can make a significant contribution to general safety in this complex environment.

Applications of drones – including package delivery, inspection flights and monitoring emergency situations – have previously been tested successfully in the safe test environment of the DronePort in Sint-Truiden, south east of Antwerp.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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