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Port of Antwerp launches world’s first drone network

According to port of Antwerp Bruges, six autonomous drones will perform daily flights in the Antwerp port area, a world first that will make an important contribution to overall security of the complex port environment.

Posted on May 15, 2023

As informed, launced today the ‘D-Hive drone-in-a-box’ network is the result of a partnership between the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, DroneMatrix, SkeyDrone and Proximus.

​The Antwerp port area is more than 120km², an area that will now be covered by the D-Hive network of six autonomous drones. They will provide extra pairs of eyes to help coordinate smooth, safe and sustainable operations in this complex environment.

The port will use the drones for a range of functions including berth management, monitoring, infrastructure inspections, oil spill and floating waste detection, and to support security partners during incidents. The 18 daily BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone flights will be remotely controlled from a Command and Control Centre in the heart of the port.

According to the port, this is the first implementation worldwide of BVLOS flights on this scale in a complex industrial environment. Unlike VLOS (Visual Line Of Sight) flights, these will take place out of the pilot’s sight.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges is working with partners DroneMatrix, SkeyDrone and Proximus for the D-Hive network. Two months ago, the partners were given the green light to launch the drone network. This operational permit was built around a new BVLOS framework, built by Skeydrone and approved by the BCAA (Belgian Civil Aviation Authority) and EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), as a appropriate and safe framework for BVLOS drone flights.

We are going all out to make our port – the engine of our economy – run as safely, cleanly and smoothly as possible. Thanks to this drone network, we will have a more accurate sense of what is going on at the port as we, along with our innovative partners, work towards the achievement of a safe, efficient and smart port – the port of the future.

…said Annick De Ridder, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp and President of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.


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