These unmanned aircrafts
are able to remain airborne for more than eight hours and can take images using
a powerful camera from a height of 280m. Utilising these features, the drones
are able to perform key tasks around the port such as inspecting
infrastructure, surveillance and monitoring, incident management, berth
management and the detection of oil spills or floating waste.
Over the course of the
trial, the images recorded by the drone covered four realistic emergency
situations. These included a container fire, the rescue of a person in distress
on top of a windmill, the rescue of a drowning person and the rescue of a man
“By carrying out these
demonstrations in collaboration with the Port of Antwerp, we are able to show
that we can make various operations safer and more efficient by using unmanned
aircraft for inspections, transporting goods and surveillance.
“By undertaking this
joint exercise, the Port of Antwerp is once again showing itself to be a
prominent player that always seeks to play a pioneering role. We are therefore
also grateful that the Port of Antwerp decided to work with Sabca, a company
also based in Belgium, in order to conduct these trials.”
Bob Spanoghe, Innovation
Platform Manager at the Port of Antwerp, added, “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. Our goal is to put in place an operational
network of drones by 2022 in order to provide a ‘live feed’ of the various port
activities. As a tool, this will enhance the work carried out by the entire
port community. That will enable us to have a more accurate sense of what is
going on within the port and as we work towards a safe, efficient, and smart
port – the port of the future.
“This is the first time
that trials using this fixed-wing drone have been undertaken in a port
environment and they have helped us progress yet another step further,
including in the collaboration we have achieved with our safety partners.”
According to a statement
from the Port of Antwerp, the use of drones will play an important role in the port
of the future as a means of maintaining safety.
Marc Kegelaers, part of
Corporate Development at Sabca-UAS also saw drones playing a key role in the
future operations of ports. However, smaller or intermediate ports with fewer
resources have been traditionally hesitant to invest in a comprehensive fleet
of drones and so may see the appeal in the Drones-as-a-service solution.