The SAFIR consortium held an Open Door day in the port of Antwerp on 26 September at which it presented a large number of industrial and commercial drone applications, with live demonstrations. Test flights demonstrated the safety and economic viability of integrated drone traffic in a challenging environment.
From DronePort to the port area
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, not far from Antwerp.
The team then moved the activities to the city of Antwerp and the port area, with the aim of testing the various applications in a realistic environment.
During the different flights the SAFIR team successfully demonstrated the safety and economic viability of integrated drone traffic in a challenging environment. The consortium made up of Unifly, Amazon Prime Air, Skeyes, DronePort, Proximus, Port of Antwerp, Helicus, SABCA, Elia, Explicit, C-Astral, Tekever and Aveillant 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.
A safe port
The Antwerp port area covers more than 120 km² 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. Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer at Port of Antwerp, confirms 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.”