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2021 September 27 18:50

Port of Antwerp carries out unique trials of small, unmanned aircraft

Port of Antwerp carried out unique trials involving a ‘fixed-wing’ drone this week, according to the company's release. The fact it can fly at high altitude and has a very powerful camera enables the craft to provide an unprecedented view of the entire port. In cooperation with Port of Antwerp's safety partners and its technology partner Sabca, the unmanned aircraft was used to provide images of realistic incident scenarios. The trials are intended to provide an insight into the possibilities this type of drone can provide as a tool to assist the port authority and to make collaboration with the safety and security services more efficient.

The port of Antwerp is over 120 km² in size and forms part of Belgium's ‘critical’ infrastructure. Thanks to the unique views they provide from the air, drones can make a significant contribution to overall safety within this complex environment. A ‘fixed-wing’ drone can fly around for more than eight hours and take pictures with a very powerful camera (30x zoom) from a height of 280 metres. This week, in collaboration with Waasland Emergency Assistance Zone, the Antwerp Fire Service and Port of Antwerp's technology partner, Sabca, Port of Antwerp tested out various use cases. The images recorded by the unmanned aircraft of four realistic emergency situations (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 overboard), will provide an insight into the possibilities of using unmanned aircraft of that sort within the port environment.

According to Port of Antwerp, the use of drones will play an increasingly important role in the port of the future and as a means of maintaining safety. Cooperation with innovative partners such as the aviation specialist Sabca will form a key part of this.