Port of Antwerp uses drones to monitor pollution

Port of Antwerp uses drones to monitor pollution
Image courtesy of the Port of Antwerp

Port authorities in Antwerp, Belgium, are making use of the European Maritime Space Agency’s (EMSA’s) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) to support day-to-day monitoring of port operations and rapid response to pollution incidents in the port area. The RPAS will enable the authorities to inspect at a distance their complex port environment which extends over an area of some 120km².

The Belgian authorities requested the service from EMSA following the positive outcome of the SAFIR project led by the SESAR Joint Undertaking for research and development activities in the area of Air Traffic Management. Through this project, the Port of Antwerp was able to test the feasibility of using drones to monitor their port activities.

Taking this forward, the Port of Antwerp in cooperation with Belgium’s Federal Public Service (FPS) for Mobility and Transport entered into an agreement with EMSA for the provision of RPAS services. The operation which has been running since the beginning of October continues until the end of the year and is the first time EMSA has provided RPAS services for the purpose of port monitoring.

The specific RPAS being employed is a highly flexible, lightweight Indago quadcopter operated by a pilot from EMSA’s contractor, Nordic Unmanned. The focus is on using unmanned technology to help port authorities conduct safe and efficient surveillance of ship and port operations as well as to respond to safety and pollution incidents rapidly. The flights are streamed live to EMSA’s RPAS Data Centre where they can be viewed by authorised port users to monitor the situation on the ground and take action as and when it is necessary.