SAFIR consortium demonstrates viable drone traffic in port of Antwerp

SAFIR consortium demonstrates viable drone traffic in port of Antwerp

Today, the SAFIR consortium held an Open Day hosted by the Port of Antwerp. A multitude of industrial and commercial drone applications were on display during live demonstrations. During the Open Day, the safety and economic viability of integrated drone traffic in a challenging environment was successfully demonstrated by the various use cases of the consortium partners.

The SAFIR consortium (Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment ) consists of 13 public and private organisations (Amazon Prime Air, Aveillant, C-Astral, DronePort, Elia, Explicit, Helicus, Port of Antwerp, Proximus, SABCA, Skeyes, Tekever and Unifly), with each organization bringing its expertise to the table. The demonstrations proved that interoperable, harmonized and standardized U-space services can be deployed in a safe and reliable manner across Europe.

The SAFIR use cases were first successfully tested at the state-of-the-art secured test environment of DronePort in Sint-Truiden. Its large flying areas for both manned and unmanned aviation make DronePort the perfect setup for developing and testing an ecosystem where both kind of aircraft can operate alongside in a safe context. ​ Next, the consortium showed their drone operations in a realistic urban and industrial environment including the city and port of Antwerp. The different use cases proved the ability of drones to safeguard critical areas, such as an international port or an urban environment.

Use of drones is immense addition to safety

Covering over 120 km2, the port of Antwerp is a very large area with critical infrastructure. The SAFIR project has proven that the use of drones is an immense addition to the safety as the port authorities can manage, inspect and control a large area in a swift and safe manner.

Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Antwerp Port Authority: “As a port authority, we want to be the regulator on land, on the water and in the air. Our goal is to have a network of autonomous drones for a live feed of the various port activities, a useful tool for the entire port community. SAFIR is not the end but the beginning of the realization of this goal. Our participation in the SAFIR consortium confirms that the port is the ideal environment to test and mature innovative tech, not only for drones but also for autonomous shipping, smart camera’s and sensors. As Port of Antwerp, we welcome this EU approach in facilitating innovative technology. This approach triggers innovation to move forward towards maturity.”

Vice mayor for the port of Antwerp Annick De Ridder: “Innovation and digitization are crucial if our port is to stay sustainably competitive in the long term. Port of Antwerp is therefore the driving force when devising and realizing solutions for the challenges of tomorrow. Drones will become indispensable in the near future, also in our port. Given the particular nature of our port, this has to be done in a safe manner. The SAFIR project has made clear what will be needed in terms of regulation and requirements at all levels to facilitate drone flights in and around the port in a safe and secure way.”











About Port of Antwerp-Bruges

With an overall throughput of 271 million tonnes per year, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a critical hub in worldwide trade and industry. The port is a crucial link for the handling of containers, breakbulk and for the throughput of vehicles. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to 1,400 companies and accommodates the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. The port provides, directly and indirectly, a total of around 164,000 jobs and generates an added value of 21 billion euros.
The ambition for Port of Antwerp-Bruges is clear - to become the world's first port that reconciles economy, people and climate. As well as growing in a sustainable way, the Port also aims to focus on its unique position as a logistics, maritime and industrial centre and to take the lead in the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy. Together with the port community, customers and other partners, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is actively seeking innovative solutions for a sustainable future. High on the agenda is its responsibility for the environment and the surrounding society. 

The port sites of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are operated by the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority, a limited liability company of public law with the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges as its shareholders. The port employs 1,800 people. Vice-Mayor of Antwerp Annick De Ridder is President of the Board of Directors, the Mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw is the Vice-President. Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the port’s day-to-day management.

The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to [email protected]

Port of Antwerp-Bruges
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