Test port for aquatic drones now in service in Amsterdam
Wedged between tankers and bulk carriers directly behind the Prodock innovation hub, the zone provides a space for drone manufacturers and operators to test their innovations and demonstrate them to potential customers.
Port of Amsterdam is the first port to make a body of water with a depth of five metres and an area of 4,500 square metres available amid the bustle of port operations, a set-up that increases the realism and reliability of the tests.
Drones in both their aerial and aquatic varieties contribute to a safe, smart, clean and efficient port environment.
Although the use of aerial drones is restricted in Amsterdam due to the proximity of Schiphol Airport, they are routinely employed for hold-and-hatch inspections and to examine storage tank interiors.
Aquatic drones can be used in inspections on or below the waterline on quays, docks, ships and buoys.
The new test zone created by the Port is also part of its ongoing efforts to urge domestic and international government authorities to speed up drone regulations.
If the Netherlands comes to play a leading role in facilitating this, this is bound to attract valuable expertise and economic activity to the country.
In opening the new test facility in Moezelhaven, the Port seeks to drive innovations in this area and bring together drone innovators and companies interested in using drones.
The drone tests will be conducted while port operations are in progress, for example to investigate how aquatic drones circumnavigate moving objects.
The digitisation of the Port is one of the key elements of the strategy pursued by Port of Amsterdam: these efforts are designed to make Port of Amsterdam smarter, safer, cleaner and more efficient.
In addition to being a boon to the maritime manufacturing industry, this would also help strengthen the city and the Port itself.
Aquatic drones should also be considered within the wider context of the digitisation of the Port and the Smart Shipping initiative.
The Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, is a vocal proponent of Smart Shipping for its potential to both improve safety on the water and keep inland shipping competitive against other modes of transport.
The Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat), which acts as a moderator for this project, has launched the SMASH! (Smart Shipping) Challenge with the objective of organising a ‘demo day’ for a self-propelled ship on 30 November 2017. ■