STEREO project SWIPE involved in world-first drone network over Antwerp port area

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Published on 5 May 2023

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. And at the heart of the algorithm scouring drone imagery for oil spills is our very own STEREO project SWIPE

The SWIPE project, launched in July last year, brings together the University of Antwerp, VITO Remote Sensing and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in a concerted effort to fight the environmental and economic impact of oil spills – to the tune of 700,000 to 1 million euros a year. To limit the impact of oil spills, the port authorities identified their main priorities: the early detection of the spills (mainly extent, surface area and thickness) and follow up the spill while cleaning. The earlier the oil spill can be detected, the higher the chances are the culprit can be identified. This will be an incentive to the companies in the port to further reduce the risks of oil spills. Drones are seen as the ideal platform and are part of the port’s future strategy towards digitization. 

The first drones started flying over particular parts of the port in late 2022, but as of today, the drone network is officially up and running, covering the entire 120 km² area of the port. 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.

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