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Tug Technology & Business

Port drone detection trial will identify uses and threats

Fri 07 Dec 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Port drone detection trial will identify uses and threats
Engineers set up the steel post with the drone detection radome on top

A drone detection trial in a key European port will identify potential uses and threats from unmanned airborne vehicles.

The Port of Amsterdam will conduct a four-week trial of drone detection to improve its understanding of how, where and why remote controlled aerial vehicles are used within the port.

Martek Marine Systems is providing its marine anti drone system (MADS) for this detection project. Part of this system includes radomes for holding transceivers to detect drone activity. This trial comes as port users prepare to use drones for infrastructure inspections and to measure environmental parameters.

One potential use of drones in the tug sector is to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to transfer mooring messenger lines between tugs and ships. Drones could also be used to transfer documents between ships, port agents and authorities. It is a key technology expected to have a positive impact on port and maritime operations in the future.

Port of Amsterdam manager for innovation projects Joost Zuidema said this trial was an important element of its innovation strategy. “This gives us a first opportunity to get a feeling for the technology that will help us understand drone usage and make a first assessment on unwanted drone flights in a part of our port,” he said.

It could also identify potential threats to port infrastructure, shipping and harbour operations from UAVs used for malevolent purposes, including privacy invasion, terrorism threats, flyby hacking, stealing valuable data and breaking into insecure networks. They could also be used to jam signals between shore and remotely controlled port vessels and tugs.

“As the port authority we want ensure drone flights in our port are carried out safely and responsibly, within the laws and regulations,” said Mr Zuidema.

MADS will monitor legal and illegal UAV flights across the port. It can identify drones within a 5 km range, provide GPS positioning of both the UAV and the pilot, together with the drone’s speed and heading. Configurable and escalating stage alarms in real-time allow the drones intentions to be assessed in good time to decide on appropriate defence actions.

Ports of Amsterdam is Europe’s fourth busiest port and covers 650 ha. It oversees 81.3Bn kg of cargo and handles over 700,00 cruise passengers per year.

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