Port of Antwerp selects 6th NeTWorK for drone project roll-out

Port of Antwerp | 6th NeTWorK | DroneMatrix | SkeyDrone | Proximus

The Port of Antwerp has recruited the 6th NeTWorK consortium to help in the roll-out of a large-scale drone project.

At the end of 2020, technology companies DroneMatrix, Proximus and SkeyDrone founded the 6th NeTWorK to implement 24/7 drone infrastructure, allowing governments and businesses to access external drone services at any time.

The Port of Antwerp has now enlisted the consortium’s help in the roll-out of its latest innovative drone project – D-Hive – Operation drone capacity for the Port of Antwerp.

The project aims to utilise a network of drones capable of performing automated flights from strategic locations in the port. Via a unique platform, the port authority can draw up flight plans and routes remotely, set the purpose and desired output of the flight, and manage authorisation requests.  

The drones are deployed with manual intervention and seek to support the Antwerp’s core processes and optimise its operations.

This includes the detection of oil slicks, floating debris, infrastructure inspections, safety coordination, vessel traffic management support, calamity and incident support, site monitoring, environmental inspections, and asset management.

“The D-Hive innovative drone project makes the Port of Antwerp the first port authority in the world to offer operational drone capacity on such a big scale,” said Annick de Ridder, Alderman for the Port of Antwerp.

“A network of automatic drones that carry out flights at strategic places in the port offers considerable added value, in terms of security as well as efficiency. This demonstrates that we are giving concrete shape today to the smart port of tomorrow.”

DroneMatrix is operating as the main contractor of the project, supplying both the hardware and software for the machines. The company is also responsible for the operation of the flights.

Frederik Winters, Project Manager for DroneMatrix, added: “The project is being carried out solely in support of the port authority.

“Based on results, we want to inspire the port community to also use the Drone-as-a-service (DAAS) model in the future. This concept takes care of all the concerns of companies and governments that rely on drone services.

“The technical aspect and permit applications are handled by us as the service provider, with the data and information made available to the user in real-time.”

SkeyDrone will also contribute its in-house expertise to this large-scale project from the Port of Antwerp.

Hendrik-Jan Van Der Gucht, Managing Director of SkeyDrone, also commented: “SkeyDrone will provide continuous monitoring of the operational ground and air risks. Integrating various static and dynamic data sources (such as position data from air traffic and ships) will enable us to determine the safest and most efficient flight routes.

“In addition, the flight authorisation process will be further automated via our data platform, through integration with the Unified Threat Management (UTM) platform of our technology partner Unifly.”

Proximus will provide a state-of-the-art network infrastructure that will deliver cloud-based services for hosting the 6th NeTWorK platform and brings expertise in the fields of IoT and analytics.

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