Port of Rotterdam selects partner for prototype U-Space Airspace

by David Fleschen

The Port of Rotterdam Authority believes that monitoring the lower airspace and offering UAS traffic services will in future greatly support drone services and allow them to thrive. More and more drone operators offer these services to the vast Rotterdam port community that counts over 3.000 companies.

Drone services, including surveillance, inspection, incident control, combating crime and drug smuggling, are already making the port area safer and will increase efficiencies across many other port processes. A step further from existing services are delivery drone flights, for instance, delivering parts on board a ship, or take cargo samples before the ship arrives in the port. U-Space services will accelerate these flights. Yet another step further is the hybrid port of the future, in which drones will play a role in freight and passenger transport alongside vessels, trains and trucks.

The Port of Rotterdam is preparing its airspace and procedures for the future and has taken on an investigative role in the expected rise in volume of air traffic. The prototype will provide answers to questions about how to organise and control the low altitude airspace in the port in a way that ensures safety whilst expanding opportunities for commercial growth and better processes. It will also help determine the role that the Port Authority will play in low-level airspace and answer questions such as: Will the Port of Rotterdam Authority, as port manager, in future manage the airspace as a regular port operation, just as it does for maritime transport, or would another agency  be better placed to ensure a safe airspace?

Oscar van Veen, Head of Digital Innovations at the Port of Rotterdam Authority: ‘Increasing the operational safety of manned and unmanned traffic in the port area is one of our main motivations for the U-Space Airspace prototype. Improving the visibility of aircrafts, better identification of unmanned flights and the option of banning flights over sensitive locations also play a role. Airspace monitoring will provide insight into the use of the sky and make it possible to enforce regulations. At the same time, but no less important, an unmanned traffic management system will enable drone operators to offer their services safely to the ports’ clients, which is of paramount importance to us.’

With the U-Space Airspace prototype the port wishes to be a role model for Dutch U-Space developments, contribute to the U-Space Airspace ‘exploring voyage’ and to the development of U-space in the Netherlands. It also wishes to showcase the abilities of a state-of-the-art Unmanned Traffic Management system and support and stimulate BVLOS developments. Drone operators who wish to experience U-Space are welcome to join. The prototyping stage is foreseen to cover a period of two years. In this period PoR and Airwayz will co-operate with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for the purpose of developing the governance, finance and legal framework for airspace management. The practical experiences, as gained by the prototype, will feed back to regulators. Properly organised prototypes can be a huge help in setting up safe U-space airspace. PoR is keen to play a leading role in this and serve as an example for the rollout to other areas in the Netherlands.

Airwayz revolutionises airspace, paving the way for scalable multi-drone fleet operations by performing a wide range of commercial applications. With the world's first AI-based Dynamic UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management), the system ׳learns׳ the dynamic urban environment and enables an automated system for real-time management of unmanned airspace. Combining the most battle-tested technological and operational team, Airwayz is set to open the skies and unleash the commercial drone era.

Source and Photo: Port of Rotterdam

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