Revolutionizing Airspace Management: The Port of Antwerp-Bruges Drone Upgrade

In a significant leap towards integrating cutting-edge technology within its operations, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, in collaboration with Unifly, a Terra Drone Corporation group company and a leader in Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management (UTM) systems, has announced a substantial upgrade to its drone management system. According to Port Technology, this advancement is set to revolutionize the way drone operations are conducted in one of the world's most bustling port areas, enhancing efficiency and paving the way for broader application, now including the Port of Bruges.

A New Era of Drone Operations

Since its initial operation in mid-March 2021, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges (PoAB) DronePortal has processed over 5,000 flight authorizations, demonstrating a clear demand and reliance on drone technology within the port's operations. The latest upgrade introduces a series of improvements aimed at streamlining the process of drone use in the port's airspace. These enhancements include optimized automated approvals for drone flights, better integration support with existing drone operations, and significant user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) improvements, ensuring that the system is both more efficient and user-friendly.

Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital Information and Innovation Officer at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, highlighted the importance of innovation, stating, “Embracing innovation is at the heart of our strategy, and this partnership with SkeyDrone and Unifly reaffirms our commitment to fostering a smart, connected, and future-ready port.” This sentiment was echoed by Hendrik-Jan Van Der Gucht, Managing Director of SkeyDrone, who emphasized the upgrade's role in enhancing user experience and advancing towards U-space readiness—ensuring the safe and seamless integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into European airspace.

Beyond Drone Management: A Commitment to Future-Ready Infrastructure

The drone management system upgrade is part of a broader initiative by the Port of Antwerp-Bruges to invest in future-ready infrastructure and technology. Earlier this year, the port announced a €23 million investment from the Connecting Facility (CEF) for the renovation of Lillo Bridge, underscoring the port's commitment to improving its infrastructure. Additionally, the port has initiated a market consultation for water treatment sector companies with the support of VLAIO's Innovative Public Procurement Programme, demonstrating its dedication to sustainability and innovation in all facets of its operations.

Navigating Towards a Smart Port Future

The upgrade of the PoAB DronePortal marks a critical step forward in the Port of Antwerp-Bruges' journey towards becoming a fully integrated, smart port. By leveraging advanced drone technology and improving its airspace management system, the port is not only enhancing operational efficiency but also setting a benchmark for ports worldwide in adopting innovative technologies. As the Port of Antwerp-Bruges continues to embrace change and invest in the future, it solidifies its position as a leader in the global maritime industry, ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century with open arms and innovative solutions.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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