Drone technology has become increasingly popular in the last several years. Among an increasing demand from consumers and growing global supply chain, the disparity between the amount of work that needs to be done and the existing workforce continues to grow. Pressures from COVID regulations and the associated economic impacts have continued to make shipping more expensive.

As a result, more ports are looking towards utilizing drone technology to improve their efficiency and decrease the associated costs. One port at the forefront of implementing this new technology is the Port of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Begins Using Drones

The Port of Rotterdam recently gained authorization for the first time to test drones out on long-distance journeys for supervising operations and inspections. Harbour Coordination Centre of the Harbour Master Division is responsible for the management of the drone through their Command & Controle Centre. According to current news, these drones only represent the very beginning of what they hope to grow the operation to.

Port authorities have announced their interest in expanding the drone operation to be a full, multifunctional, port-wide drone network where drones are dispatched and controlled form a central hub. This would likely create several jobs in the central hub requiring additional supervisors and remote controlled drone operators.

This new drone operation gives supervisors at the Harbour Master Division the capability of having real-time connection between what the drone sees and the intervention of managers and port authorities – essentially cutting time down for information travel.

Safety Benefits

Another major benefit of utilizing drones on port grounds are the myriad safety benefits that come with this transition. The most notable being fire detection.

The Port of Rotterdam will be utilizing drones to transmit information to the Joint Fire Department regarding any potential fires or related hazards. This gives the port the ability to locate and report fires immediately without any risk of harm being placed on employees checking affected areas by foot.

Future of Drone Use at Rotterdam

Obviously, this is only the beginning regarding the application of drones to the Port of Rotterdam. There is already talk and active planning around the scalability of this project. In the future, drones will carry out a wide variety of port-related tasks.

In the works are talks about using drones for inspections and monitoring, as well as actually transporting packages around the port. There’s still a good deal of work that needs to be done before this is a possibility – most notably, the creation of vertiports (a network of platforms used for universal take off and landing of drones at the port.)

There’s a ton of work that has yet to be done, but the official introduction to and use of drones in Rotterdam as of June 2023 is a step in the right direction.


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