The Port of Antwerp has announced it will work with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to expand use of drone technology in port operations.

The Port said in a statement that drones can make a major contribution to general security and safety in a complex maritime environment and will allow authorities to manage, inspect and monitor large areas.

It said it will use a drone pilot to accompany Port Authority Officers during enforcement tasks and give them a birds eye view of all situations. The images will be remotely accessible, so that they can quickly be shared with emergency services if necessary. The images will only be used for surveillance and not stored in order to ensure privacy.

The drone will not only be used during regular checks, but also during incidents to gain a quick overview of the situation. The images of oil incidents will also be used by the University of Antwerp to train algorithms to automatically detect oil incidents in the future.

The Port said drones will play an increasingly important role in the port of the future. As part of the Port of Antwerp’s participation in the SAFIR project, extensive tests have already been carried out to investigate the feasibility of manned and unmanned drones in the port.

The ultimate goal of these projects is a network of autonomous drones that can provide a ‘live feed’ for the various port activities, in the context of a safe, efficient and smart port.

Paul Wauters, Harbor Captain at Port of Antwerp commented: “This collaboration with EMSA allows us to use new technologies in our enforcement, in order to be able to respond more quickly to incidents and create a safer port for port users.”

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